Monday, June 7, 2021

Finding My Way With No Map or Compass

Finding My Way

I didn't always know I wanted to be an educator. I went to college and started out majoring in Engineering. After midnight stays in the Engineering lab during volleyball season, all while not getting the computer language to output what I needed it to, I changed my major to Biology. I was going to go into cancer or AIDS research, hoping that my contributions would be able to help save lives. (I didn't realize that my passion for helping others would manifest itself in my coaching and mentoring young people for almost 30 years!)

1992 Berry High School Lady Buccaneers Softball

In the spring of 1989, I was asked to volunteer coach the softball team at my high school alma mater, Berry High School. It was then, in that opportunity, that I found my life's purpose. I transferred from the University of Alabama-Birmingham that summer to Samford University to play softball, and I began taking education classes. 

I graduated from Samford University in December 1991, and I got a long-term sub position at Simmons Middle School, in the Hoover City Schools district. I was the assistant softball coach with Jim Brown at Berry High School. Little did I know that I would be coaching again with him again, 18 years later!

In the fall of 1992, I started teaching and coaching at Pelham High School. I stayed there for 4 years, but in 1996 I left education to work with my husband. We opened a gym and were personal trainers and gym owners. It was during that time away from education that I learned that my calling was to be an educator. 

In 1998, I got a teaching and coaching position at Vestavia Hills High, a cross-town rival of my alma mater, Berry High School. (Berry High School had closed a few years before I started working at Vestavia due to the city building a new, large high school to replace Berry. It was called Hoover High School.) During my time at Vestavia, I learned an incredible amount about tradition, excellence, and leadership. After teaching there for 6 years, I entered my first role in administration as one of the assistant principals, and I stayed in that role for 3 years. My commitment to mentoring new and aspiring school leaders is because I still remember what it was like to go from being one of a hundred people in the building who all did the same thing (teach) to being one of 3 people in the building who were administrators. As the AP of Curriculum, I was the only one who did my job at the school, and this was before social media was in the picture. It was very challenging, but I'm grateful for the experiences that have shaped me as a leadership coach and school leader.

From 2007-2009 I was at Hewitt-Trussville High as Principal. I met some incredible students and educators during that short time, but it was the transition God knew I needed to get me to Hoover High. (I went back to the classroom at Hoover High for two years, 2009-2011, and was assistant softball coach.) While in the classroom 2011, I had an experience where I literally was the person to save a student's life. God put me in the exact place He needed me to be. Since that day, there has never been a day that I've gone to work and questioned it. I know that even today, as I finish out my last days as a school administrator, I'm doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. There are no countdowns, no wishing the days away. It's purpose-driven and faith-led. Only confidence. Have you ever felt that way?

Since the summer of 2011, I've had the privilege to serve as Assistant Principal for the awesome students and staff at Hoover. It's been a long run and a wonderful one, full of ups and downs, but always a lot of joy. 2011 was also the year I began to connect with educators all over the world via twitter. Finding other educators who were doing awesome work in their schools and learning from them while also getting to share our school's story is something that profoundly impacted me personally and professionally.

This summer I will be retiring from public education. I'm not sure yet what God has planned for me, whether it will be education-related or not... but I know that it will be for His purpose. I love this quote, Man makes a plan and God laughs. There are so many times that I've made plans then prayed about them. Now I pray, then I make plans. 

While my plans are to retire from the school administrator role, I've been having negative messages play in my mind about how I will now "fit" in the persona that I've created for myself through work, connections, imagery, and writing. Am I still compelled? Will I be able to contribute? Am I enough? Will I find purpose?

|RELATED POST: Be Your Own Champion 

I've slowed down my activity on social media and on this blog these last few months while I've been introspective and listening. I've been searching to find out what is the next destination and where the next trailhead will be. As time has passed (it's now been about 4 months since I first shared the words with our principal... "I'm retiring in July."), I've come full circle in my thinking and actions. 

What has bubbled up and through the negative thoughts is the mantra that I've shared with my husband and daughters repeatedly over the years: It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. I fully embrace those words, and I'm excited about the next steps of this journey. 

THANK YOU to all the readers of this blog. You've inspired me over and over with your comments, your messages, and your insights. I apologize for the silence over the last few months, but I'm back and I've got some great things to share from podcasts & books I've devoured recently, and just some plain crazy ideas I want to share with you. Feel free to share a comment below, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.