I am a social worker—both by profession and at heart. Helping families and their children who are experiencing poverty and homelessness is truly a passion, and I’ve dedicated my life to it for over 35 years. I have witnessed remarkable progress in that time, and I have seen countless lives changed.
My parents and I would work logic problems when I was little and they always asked me the same questions. How do you know that’s the answer? Can you prove it? I come from a long line of teachers and lawyers, and I draw from both in my work as an educational researcher at the Dana Center. I have my father’s insistence on proof and accuracy, and my mother’s penchant for clearly sharing information.
In my 6 years teaching in Austin-area schools, I worked hard every day to create a caring, inclusive, and empowering classroom community for my students. Now I work on the policies that shape what happens in classrooms in Texas and beyond. One of the reasons that I remain motivated by the mission of the Center—equity, access, and excellence in math and science education—is to ensure that all students can reclaim a place in the community of mathematical learners.
I’m from a military family, so as a child I experienced several different school systems. I’ve worked in education since I graduated college because I believe mathematics is important, accessible and beneficial for everyone if we go about teaching it well. After serving as mathematics coordinator in Pflugerville Independent School District for over 5 years, I joined the Dana Center to work on K–12 mathematics education with even more of my heroes.
As a child living on a pig farm in Clifton, Texas, I was certainly no stranger to the idea of working hard. With such a small school district, I had my mother twice as teacher. She had a poster in her classroom (and used to tell students often), “Your I CAN is more important than your IQ.” I’ve learned firsthand over the years that hard work alone can be fruitless if you don’t also believe you can succeed.
In my seven years of teaching social studies in the Bronx and East Austin, I learned about the intense complexities of setting up an environment where students can be their best selves and focus on learning. Too often, our most vulnerable students and families are underserved by education situations that do not meet their needs and do not allow them to become the successful adults they want to be.
My favorite 11th-grade teacher Elizabeth Aston-Sullivan insisted I take a fourth year of math in high school. She saw something in me that took me nine years to see for myself. Once I became an educator, amazing mentors helped and encouraged me—including my students, whose actions, emotions, and beliefs shaped my teaching.
I was a first-generation college student. Going to college changed my life, thanks to wonderful faculty and learning about disciplines I had no idea existed. For this reason, I have worked in higher education for almost my entire career. I have a deep respect for students and faculty, and I know that education changes lives.
As a proud and passionate reading educator, I know that literacy, more than any other skill, can change the trajectory of a life. I love teaching children to read and watching the world open up to them in new ways. I am grateful to work with amazing colleagues, AmeriCorps tutors, school partners, and community supporters who believe all our children have a right to become fully literate.
I grew up in Bowie, Maryland and never questioned whether or not I would go to college—only where. After college, I redirected my career toward the language arts and education leadership. I now play with words the way I used to play with numbers and formulas. It’s a magical experience that I’ve shared with the many elementary students I taught and the new teachers I supervised, many who didn’t think they were writers or that they could teach young students to write.