Let’s start with the easy stuff – give us a sample of your professional background and experience.
After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in Secondary Education and a minor in Psychology, I taught junior high English and Social Studies for 5 years. I also served as an Equity and Inclusion Coach and Social Emotional Learning Coordinator for my school. I was very fortunate to be able to attend a wide variety of wonderful equity, inclusion, and social emotional learning trainings during my time as an educator.
What brought you to PLC?
Oh man, my journey to PLC goes back a few years. At the time, Marc Williams was the biggest proponent of restorative practices in our district. He invited PLC to present on RP at one of our district-wide professional development days, and I happened to attend that session. It marked a major shift in my professional and personal beliefs. I really started to focus on educating myself and finding other mentors like Marc. Over time, it just got harder and harder to ignore certain systemic issues. In August 2020, I reached a breaking point. Myself and other educators in my community were fighting hard for some essential changes, and we just kept hitting wall after wall. I realized that I needed to rethink how I was trying to effect change, and I decided to visit PLC’s website. I was only intending to find some resources or inspiration. Instead, I saw the job posting for the Director of Social Emotional Learning position, and now I’m here!
What are you most excited about in your new role?
I really believe in the transformational power of equitable social emotional learning. At its heart, it’s about meeting people of all ages and abilities where they are and helping them gain a better understanding of what they experience internally and externally. In a world that doesn’t really make sense, SEL is a great “meaning-maker.” I’m very excited to play a part in making social-emotional practices more culturally responsive and accessible.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
My perfect day would start at a decent hour- not too early, but not too late. I’d run out to grab some coffee from a local coffee shop and get any errands out of the way before things get busy. The weather would be nice enough to do plenty of outdoor activities, like paddleboarding or hiking. My husband and I love “patio weather,” so I’m sure we’d grab some lunch at one of our favorite spots that has outdoor dining options. Then, I’d spend the rest of the day working on a fun home project while listening to podcasts.
If we pushed play on what you were last listening to (music, podcast or otherwise) what would we hear?
I can safely say that, during a typical work day, it’s almost always going to be a “chillhop” live stream on YouTube.
Pre-COVID, you’re invited to a pitch-in, what are you bringing?
Oh man, this is a tough one. My friends and I love two things: pitch-ins and thematic get-togethers, so normally what I’d bring would be influenced by the theme. Crockpot pizza dip and pita chips are always a big hit!
Who is someone you look up to? Why?
While I was teaching, I met an amazing group of educators who I still look up to today. I look up to them for so many reasons… They’re so compassionate, and they recognize the humanity of everyone they come across. They’re also amazingly innovative and creative. Most importantly, I look up to them for their absolute dedication to holding people and systems accountable. They taught me how to ask the right questions, how to reimagine broken systems, and how to get back to “the work” when there are setbacks.
Lastly, how did you celebrate when you accepted your new job?
I actually missed the call offering me the position twice because my phone was acting up that week! It was sending anyone who wasn’t in my contacts to voicemail and my “visual voicemail” wasn’t working, so I didn’t know anyone was even trying to call me. Luckily, I realized that something wasn’t right with my phone, and I was able to give Lisa a call back that same day. I was so happy that I cried in my car after I got off the phone! My husband took me to Culver’s that night for some cheese curds and their scoop of the day for a lowkey, COVID-safe celebration.