When you have a great school and a wonderful community, it makes your life a joy.
Can you talk about your journey?
My journey up to this point has been a pretty great one. When I graduated from college, I was trying to figure out my purpose in life; one that I believed to revolve around basketball. I was hoping to go to the NBA or overseas to play basketball. I even had great mentors like Mr. Robinson and Mr. Hense, who encouraged me to obtain an internship. It was then when I became a long-term substitute teacher at Tech Prep. I realized that I liked teaching and being a positive part of these kids lives. So, after substitute teaching for a year, I became a paraprofessional and was soon after offered a position to teach physical education here at FPCS Woodridge. Basketball is still a passion of mine, but I see a bigger purpose to teach kids here. I see the positive effect that I have on our scholars. When they see someone that is energetic, confident, positive and believes in them, they get hope. They want the same for themselves. I share my college experiences with them and they’re inspired. These kids teach me a lot about myself and what I can offer as a teacher.
What do you like about Friendship?
I graduated from Friendship in 2008. Coming to Friendship was one of the best decisions of my life. I had coaches, teachers, and mentors who all cared about my well being. They showed me not only how to get “to and through college” but through life. And now I have the opportunity to give back to the next generation. When you have a great school and a wonderful community, it makes your life a joy. I come to work with great people here. We help each other and work together as a team. It makes your day go by so smoothly. Kids are going to be kids, but we have a strong culture where we want to see each other and our scholars succeed.
Before I came to Friendship, the only reason I went to school was to play basketball. They say, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” but that’s exactly what I did.
I saw being an NBA star as the only way out. I didn’t know I needed to get above a certain GPA or obtain a specific SAT score until I got to Friendship. I was offered guidance and clear steps to follow. They said, “If you want to go to college and play basketball, this is what you have to do…” It was all laid out. If I had stayed at my previous school, I would have never gotten everything done.
Then, when I was going to Collegiate, I fell in love with academics; I had great teachers. In Ms. Tindle’s class, I fell in love with writing. When I got to college, it was easy for me to write papers. Before I arrived at Friendship, I hated math and got Bs and Cs, but with Ms. Crouch as my math teacher, I got As and Bs. Teachers showed concern and genuinely cared – that’s what made the difference for me.
Are there any strategies you could recommend for new teachers?
Take pride in your teaching. Find ways to be creative. Kids have short attention spans, and we always need to find ways to keep them engaged. Give scholars roles and let them start leading. Ask them, “What do you want to learn?” Be innovative.
I love talking to parents and building relationships. Don’t hesitate to call their mom and dad on the first day. I call parents about the good things the kids did. I say, “Our young scholar did XYZ, I’m so proud to share this with you!” Other kids will hear about it and think, “Oh, I need one of THOSE phone calls.”
If something difficult happens in my life, I still come here and give them my 100%. I never let them see me down. Know that it is going to be challenging. Be stern, be genuine, and let the kids know you really care. You may not know what their story is. When a scholar is having a bad day, I’m able to talk to them from a real place. I love these kids; they’re our future.