Please tell us a little about yourself.
“I was born in Madison Hospital and raised in Mt. Juliet. We first moved to Mt. Juliet when I was 6 years old, and I’ve lived in this area most of my life (outside my years in college and my husband’s time in the military).”
“I’ve been married to my husband, Robert, for almost 40 years. We have four married children and 10 grandchildren. Our 11th grandchild is due in May.”
“I attended Lakeview Elementary, Mt. Juliet Elementary, West Elementary, Mt. Juliet Junior High and graduated from Mt. Juliet High School. I received my bachelor’s degree in math and English from MTSU, and I later earned my master’s degree from Trevecca and my Ed.S. and Ed.D. from The University of the Cumberlands.”
“My very first job was at Sonic Drive-in in Hermitage.”
How many years have you’ve been in education?
“I spent my first year out of college teaching at Fort Campbell. We then moved back to Mt. Juliet, where I have been for 39 years. I spent most of my career at MJHS as a teacher and administrator, but I also worked at the Central Office and at LHS before becoming principal of MJMS. During my years at MJHS, I taught ELA, math and even theater.”
When did you start at MJMS?
“I was actually on a cruise in Alaska in June of 2019 when I was offered the job as principal. Since I had no phone service, Dr. (Donna) Wright and I did a lot of texting and emailing, and then I met with her in person when I returned.”
What’s special about MJMS?
“The teachers and staff members give and give and give. Their energy exhausts me sometimes, when I see them coaching or sponsoring their own groups, but then they come to work a gate, keep a book, sell a snack, or just cheer for their students who are playing or performing. I’m telling you – I hit the mother lode when I came to MJMS. The students are wonderful.”
What were the effects of the 2020 tornado on MJMS?
“When the tornado first hit, my people immediately said, ‘What can we do to help?’ We did not know what we would be called to sacrifice over the next few years when we said that. The first year we not only dealt with the fallout from COVID, but we shared our main building with both Stoner Creek and West Wilson, moving two of our grades to GHHS. Now, for the flip side of that. We have made so many friends at WWMS and GHHS. We have shared meals with the other schools, we have shared triumphs. They have cheered us on, and we have cheered them on. We have taken advantage of some great opportunities to collaborate. While we will rejoice to have our space back, we are going to be so sad to say goodbye to some great people. We are better because of this time together. Iron sharpens iron.”
What are your five-year goals?
“One of my goals is to do a better job at being there for my family. With all my children rearing their own children now, I want to pour into their lives the way I have tried to pour into the lives of other people’s children and grandchildren. I have often put them second, and I’m trying to do better about putting them first.”
“I enjoy playing the piano, working jigsaw puzzles, doing diamond art (that’s a new one I just discovered), reading books, listening to audio books and sewing. I’ve made a quilt for all of my children and grandchildren, and over the years I’ve made several quilts and pillows for students in my classes.”
What word describes you best?
“Tenacious. When I decide on something, I go at it with all my heart and will not let it go until the mission is accomplished. This is usually a benefit but is sometimes to my detriment.”
What’s a life lesson that stays with you?
“There is a place in the Bible where Moses is too tired to hold up his arms, and he really needs his arms up. Others came alongside him and held up his arms when he could not. There is a huge life lesson in that. Let’s stand in the gap for each other and hold others up when they are too tired and too weak to lift themselves.”
Who is your mentor?
“(Former MJHS Principal) Mel Brown. Not one day goes by that I don’t think of something he taught me or something he said to me that helped form me into the leader that I am and continue to develop into.”
What would surprise us about you?
“I have my own record, singing and playing the piano, that I made at RCA’s famous Studio B. My father was a recording engineer there and brought me in one day to record me.”
Which living person do you most admire?
“My husband. He is a wonderful person with a strong moral compass (he keeps me in line). He works very hard, takes great care of me and loves our family so well. He comes with me to all my school functions after working all day, listens patiently to my crazy school stories, goes to church even when I’m lazy and stay home, cleans, cooks, repairs, maintains … and never, ever misses a day of exercise.”
If you could travel anywhere, where would you visit?
“I have been overseas and plan to go again, but I really enjoy traveling right here in America. One of my goals is to drive Route 66 because I’d love to see all the unique places and the history along the trail.”