I became an educator in 1978 and cannot think of any other career that would be more rewarding. I eventually retired from Cherry River Elementary in Nicholas County. Currently, I work part-time with teachers and students as a consultant in elementary mathematics.

There are two aspects of being an educator that I would call my favorite. There’s that “lightbulb” moment when you know the learner truly understands something new. Then there are the conversations with former students who share memories that let you know you made a difference.

The commitment of teachers to their students and the dedication of the teachers to professional growth are real positives of the profession. The past two years have been the most challenging for many educators, and, between the COVID-19 pandemic and the attacks on the public education system, I fear we may lose some of the best.

I had the privilege of working with Becky O’Dell, another Milken Educator from this county, for several years. She inspired me in so many ways to continue to learn, to teach and to grow. If I have been able to influence even a few of my students or colleagues the way Becky did me, that would be a tremendous honor. As Henry Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

I am married to my best friend, a mother of three and grandmother of two and a half. My hobbies include birding, stitching, reading, and playing the piano. Nothing beats spending time with family.

Being selected as a Milken Educator gave me the courage and confidence to see myself as a leader, as a person who could have influence beyond the walls of my school. It opened the door to many professional opportunities throughout the twenty years following the award. It also meant I could take my family on a cross-country trip that we would not otherwise have been able to do. The award made it possible, but it was being able to give my family memories for a lifetime that made it so special.