I followed my daughters here. When I first moved to Roanoke with my family, I worked as a teacher in public schools but recognized North Cross as the best opportunity for a good education in the area and enrolled my daughters here when each of them were in Kindergarten. After a few years I heard about an opening for a teacher and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I was hired by Bert Hudnall and Dave Calvert and my first year at North Cross I taught 5th grade math, 6th grade science, and 7th grade social studies. The next year I became the only science teacher in the middle school and, for a while, all the students had me three years in a row. I also taught both of my daughters.
How was it teaching your daughters?
I loved teaching them although it wasn’t always easy. There were days when “mom and daughter” would not be on speaking terms but “teacher and student” would be getting along just fine. Not to mention back then I taught “reproduction” as part of my 7th grade science class, much to my daughters’ mortification. Overall, it was a great experience that I’m so glad I had. I knew the children in their classes so well because I had known them for years from growing up with my girls, and I knew their parents really well, too. There were other faculty children in my daughters’ classes, like Emily Cook and Blair Calvert Trail, so I was in good company.
Who was your mentor when you first started working at North Cross?
Elsie Bailey. Ms. Bailey taught 6th grade math and calculus in the upper school. Because she worked with the students in 6th grade and again in the upper school, she knew the path they needed to take. She was highly professional and devoted to her students and her craft. She would even contact students after graduation to ask what prepared them well and what needed improvement so she could improve her courses for future students. Ms. Bailey was a no-nonsense teacher and students knew not to misbehave in her class. She was well-respected by parents, students, and her peers. I thought she was amazing.
Another idol I have is Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series. I would love to play her in a real life version of that show.
What is your favorite thing about teaching in the middle school?
The kids. It’s such an intriguing age, they are so fun and captivating. When I was in college I wasn’t even 100% sure that I wanted to be a teacher. When I did student teaching my senior year, I was assigned to a middle school in Henrico County. It took one day in that class to decide that teaching middle schoolers was what I wanted to do. It’s wonderful being able to share my passion for science and teach children who are so eager to learn. I think I have the best job in the world!
I hear you are quite the world traveler, how did you become so interested in traveling?
Growing up I never really thought I would be much of a traveler. When I was 18 I went camping with my family in Canada and absolutely loved it. It had a beautiful landscape and rich history. I also I loved being outdoors. After that I took a few trips here and there, but my passion for traveling really started in the mid-90s and thanks, in large part, to North Cross. At the time I was working with Peter Benedict who was in charge of Outdoor Education here at North Cross and took several trip with our students. With help from the JOCO Foundation, and other national organizations, like the Jason Project developed by Robert Ballard, the leader of the underwater research on the Titanic, I was able to start traveling and working with scientists all over the world. I’ve been on scientific excursions in Alaska, Hawaii, and Panama. I even studied Mars with scientists at the Mars Study Program at Arizona State and the Jet Propulsion Lab in California at places that are geographically similar to Mars in the United States. I studied the impact of global warming and off-shore drilling in Louisiana. I learned about conservation efforts for elephants and cheetahs in Kenya, and spent a year in Australia assisting with research at the Great Barrier Reef. But, as much as I love my job and traveling the world, I love my family the most. My favorite places to visit are Washington D.C., Burlington, Vermont, and Portland, Oregon to see my family.
Is there anywhere in the world that you haven’t been but would still like to go?
I have been to all of the continents except Antarctica and I’m dying to go and work with scientists there. I would also really like to travel to China. Not so much for science, but just to experience the culture.