Let’s address the title first! No, I cannot actually see you and the title is not a fan girl reference to seeing what folks did last summer. It is a mantra focused on seeing people for who they really are sans labels, preconceived notions or personal afflictions. Thus 2018 brings to life the blog ,” I See You” where I will mix education policy and practice with a dash of humanity and discuss the awesome folks who I have met along the way. To know me is to know I champion those who are overlooked, misunderstood or just need a little extra. Through this typed journey, I hope you will meet my tribe and see how a dash of humanity and unbridled creativity can help you SEE people for who they are.
Fitting, my first post will allow you to see me for who I really am. Born into a family of somewhat stubborn and kind hearted folks, most educators in some fashion, I was one lucky kid. I had grandparents who would have done anything to ensure I had every opportunity available and that they did. While material things were given, what I remember most were the opportunities to see the world from different angles. For example, I’m 200% positive I got my dash of humanity from PawPaw Max who took me everywhere with him including his Meals on Wheels routes, the Greenville Shriners Hospital and many more. I also had parents who held high expectations for me, never letting me be average. My mom and dad also provided opportunities for me to travel, attend symphonies, take lessons, and be a little unique. In my current job, I now see the power of an opportunity and see what that absence can bring.
My childhood daily life was fairly uneventful and you could usually find me with a basketball or softball in hand every day after school. There was a time in my life where I thought college sports could be a reality but quickly realized I was more than a few steps too slow and wishing on someone else’s dream. There I realized the power of my parents high expectations and was able to use my academic performance to land NC Teaching Fellows. In 2007, I began student teaching at Costner Elementary just a few miles down the road from my beginnings. On the hottest field day ever, I was hired for my first educational job located at the middle school I attended by a lifelong mentor. I traveled back to my beginnings and finished out the school year. I then began my teaching journey which allowed me to have some of my students for 4 years in a row. BLESS THEM! This is where my creativity and persistent nature kicked in as I taught 44 kids who had never passed a state assessment. Through love, seeing them, building relationships and my stellar math skills, 92% of these students passed their assessment. I couldn’t let those students go to 8th grade without me so I traveled down the hall and taught a traditional 8th grade Math schedule. It was during this year that I met a group of students who had a heart of gold and one particular student with Autism that changed my career. I matured, grew, laughed, cried and celebrated with my team teachers and students that year and they hold a large place in my heart. I will leave the details in the story of the student with autism to a later post, but know that my dash of humanity, creativity and high expectations for all students came from this student.
Thanks to the great state of NC I got to participate in Principal Fellows. Remember that lifelong mentor from earlier? I was luckily placed with him to do my Principal Fellows internship at Bessemer City High School. Despite the rumored past of our high school rivalry, BCHS became my home, my family. Have I done everything right? No way! But the best part about BCHS is the focus on building relationships with students to ensure our students have an open door after graduation. During my time there and with the help of the entire
staff, the graduation rate rose 20+%, we graduated 20% more students with disabilities that the state average and math scores rose from dismal to 32%. Every educator has days that are exhausting, tough, and make you question your purpose. I would encourage you to take a look down the hall and find a student whose life was bettered because of you. Find a student that you sparked hope in and see how they are doing. It is in those moments that you will find your purpose for coming to school because, if you do this education thing right, it’s not About you. It’s about the students who need you.
So, this is me in a nutshell. It is my hope to journal my adventures through 2018 and share insight to opportunities I have been given to see people for who they truly are. Be on the lookout for the next blog called Adventures with Aubrey as we travel to NC Council for Exceptional Chirldren Conference to share our story!