I have been in school since I started kindergarten at age 5! :)
In the middle of college I had to make a decision about the rest of my life. While I had secret dreams of becoming a disc jockey or a truck driver, I eventually made the decision to become a Spanish Teacher.
Why Spanish? I wanted to teach because I love people, especially kids. I chose Spanish thanks to my fresh and fun Spanish teacher Señorita Marquart. She made class fun and exciting and I wanted to be like her. And...I loved learning Spanish!
The summer after my sophomore year of college was spent in Madrid, Spain, taking classes and immersing myself in the culture. After struggling with the language and seeing the world through a different set of glasses, I came back with the realization that we need to be experts at communication.
Two years later, my sister and I traveled to Madrid to visit our former foreign exchange student Virginia and her family. We stayed for a month. It is amazing how much you learn about people and culture in such a short time!
Almost immediately after our return to the United States, I moved to a very small rural town, Eldon, Missouri, where I began my career as a Spanish teacher. I was the only world language teacher in the high school, which held approximately 600 students in grades 9-12. I am embarrassed to say that those first few years of teaching were somewhat of a disaster. I was a department of one, just starting out, teaching 4 preps and 6 classes a day. For a while I was just trying to stay afloat.
Luckily, in my first year of teaching I met some other world language teachers from districts close by and I learned about the power of collaboration.
I spent 10 years teaching Spanish to really great kids at Eldon High School. Administratively though, budgets were being cut and the lack of support from those in control led me to a move to Columbia, Missouri. This was a really positive move for me, even though it took me a year or two to get used to teaching in a junior high. I learned to love the energy of the 8th and 9th graders in my classes and started taking leadership roles within my building. I had less preps (only 2!) and less classes (only 5!), but more responsibilities and more meetings. My work load as a teacher was wearing me down.
As I became more and more inundated with school responsibilities, I brainstormed what else I could do with my degree that would offer a new perspective, a fresh start and I could not think of anything that wouldn't substantially diminish my paycheck.
In 2010 I was driving back from my school's retirement celebration, pondering the numerous years some of my collegues had served. I was so in awe of their dedication and passion! And then it hit me...I could go for another Masters degree...in counseling!! I started going back, way back to my high school years...to a time when I dreamed of being a school counselor. With a new high school and a secondary reconfiguration of schools to be implemented in the fall of 2013, I decided NOW was the time to start.
I didn't go into this lightly. Living in a college town, I had a few possible roads to choose from. I spoke to my friend and school counselor Debbie who had made the switch from teacher to counselor just a few years ago. She told me about the program she went through but ended up recommending Stephens College because she worked with interns and saw much more preparation in those coming from Stephens.
My husband and I discussed my desire to go back to school and try something new. He said that I should go for it. With his blessing, I began the application process to start classes in January of 2011. I didn't realize that there were only a few slots to get into the program that quickly. I was never so happy when I found out I was accepted into the program for Januaary 2011!
On January 25th, 2011 I took my daughter Holly to the doctor's office for naseau and dizziness. I thought she might have an ear infection and was in shock when the doctor told us that they got a room for us in the hospital and we would be staying for 3-5 days. Holly was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10. Her diagnosis has impacted our family significantly (both negatively & positively). I now have a special place for anyone who suffers a chronic medical condition like type 1. As I had a dual emphasis of school counseling and LPC, my hope was to work with recently diagnosed families in a practicum setting. Unfortunately, our hospital only accepts social working interns. While school counseling is my main emphasis right now, I may find a niche dealing with the type 1 population in my future.
At the end of May 2012, I was told that I would be assigned to teach Spanish at Lange Middle School (a different school in the same school district). In the 2012-3 school year the district implemented 4 professional development days in our new buildings so we could begin to work together as a staff.
It just so happened that a counseling position opened up in Lange Middle School (LMS) for the fall of 2013. In February of 2013 I found out that I would be a working at LMS as a school counselor for the 2013-14 school year! After hearing about the difficulty in finding jobs, I feel so blessed to have landed this position!
Whew! Long story, I know! But I feel that my background has truly shaped who I am today as a school counselor.
That is my professional story.
On a personal note, I am happily married to Tom and we have two teens: Holly and Brady. Holly is 13 and attends a different middle school in our district. Brady is 16 and in high school. Both of them have taught me numerous lessons in life and I am still learning!
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