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ST​EM Teacher, Crisfield Academy and High School, Somerset County

2018-19 Maryland State Teacher of the Year

What do you love about teaching? 
I remember being jobless and going into the school system as a substitute, as I began to teach the kids I began to see pieces of my own story within some of the students that I taught. The challenges that they had to overcome, the obstacles that they were facing, and I felt as though I was the person to inspire them to move forward. Those kind of stories and students really hit home for me.

Why did you become a Teacher?​ 
I became a teacher after substituting. I went in, and I started mentoring young kids and I fell in love with it. Seeing the process of them blossoming into productive citizens and just being able to be that person to give them hope, that is why I became a teacher.

Can you describe your pathway to this profession? 
I was jobless when I came into the school system as a substitute. As I begin to teach, the kids began to see how my story, or parts of it, were fitting into the pattern of their story as well. For me, I related to the challenges that they had to overcome, and the obstacles that they were facing; and I felt as though I was the person to kind of inspire them to move forward. 

I had a student named Shamir who was an inspiration to me. Shamir came in, and immediately I knew that she was going to be a great student. She approached every assignment with enthusiasm and with excellence; but, months later, Shamir had her head down on the desk. When I asked her after class what was going on, she explained to me that she wanted to drop out to help her mother work to take care of her family. I discovered her mother was working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. I told Shamir that the best way she could help her mother was to get a solid education so she had more opportunities for higher income. Fast forward to now, and Shamir is now a productive member of the National Honor Society, she has received multiple scholarships, and she has been accepted to the University of Maryland College Park. That is what being a teacher can do, and that is powerful. 

Do you have any advice for young teachers, or those who are considering this profession?
There's a program call the Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM) which prepares future educators to become teachers while they are still in high school. I tell any student interested to get involved in their local TAM program. 

The teaching profession is one of the most noble professions in the world. You have the opportunity to help shape the lives of the future, to change the world in little itty bitty pieces. Often the greatest reward in teaching comes years down the road - so although you may not feel the immediate impact, later on you will have students come back and thank you for what you did. You are doing the world a tremendous service by becoming a teacher.