My desire has always been to be a proactive advocate for youth since my young-adult years in the juvenile justice system. I am very near to receiving my dual Master’s degree in ESE and English. “Divorce and the Effects on Children” was my Bachelor’s honors thesis and that knowledge created in me a deeper sensitivity to children’s issues and how young people respond to their circumstances. With my backgrounds in the Florida Legislature and in the news media as a reporter, I expect to add enrichment to my students’ learning along with the integration of as much technology as possible.
SCHOOL YEAR 2015-2016
As I reflect upon this past year, I can say the school year was a good and interesting experience. I noted that I would not mind working in a technical school. Turns out I was a first-year Culinary Arts teacher for the entire year. Beyond all what my former husband chef taught me, I did learn how to julienne and other skills from the chef. More importantly, I expanded my classroom management skills — let’s just leave it at that. I am hoping to notify parents of an app they can use to keep their children from using their phones during school hours for the success of their students. I saw students that didn’t have a phone or tablet go from doing great work, to getting a tablet and not doing their work at all. Seeing that was discouraging. I was grateful to have that position for the year, and overall, it was fun; the students were great.
The year prior, I was an ESE Language Arts teacher for grades 6 – 8. I had 6th and 7th students in my classroom for four periods and in an inclusion 8th grade classroom for two periods. One of my accomplishments was getting my extremely disinterested students to write a personal narrative, by having them do it in PowerPoint and adding media. They hated writing, but they loved doing that project. And since the FSA testing is all done on computer, it was a fantastic experience for them. I was shocked many of them did not know how to use computers. I am happy to learn from my students, and one of them taught me how to add sound and taught it to the other students. That gave her empowerment. Many of my students were eventually removed and put into an emotional-behavioral classroom. That assignment was the most challenging of all my teaching years. For teachers who also had the same students and had been teaching full-time for far more years than I had, agreed that was their most challenging year as well. 2014-2015 certainly was an induction. I do miss those students, though.
WHERE I BELONG – June 16, 2014
The last year has been a reflection on whether or not I should pursue law school. I feel as though I am where I belong. The courts are too late. I need to make a difference in the lives of teens and young adults before they end up in the mass incarceration and revolving-door court system. I care about the students and working with them feels like home. I probably will pursue a doctorate in adult and career education. I would also like to work in a career technical education environment.
I AM A TEACHER AND ADVOCATE – JOURNEY TO LAW SCHOOL
Every job I’ve ever held I have been a teacher and I love teaching and being an advocate for human rights. As a legislative aide, as a writer and now in the classroom, I have been teaching the public. I want to continue to teach but I also want to teach children and families their rights. My desire to get a law degree began when I was a court reporter and found myself helpless when I could not participate in the trial process–juvenile and family courts in particular. Close to half a century of complicated legal experiences without representation has continued to propel me toward that goal–to be an advocate for those without a voice, children and those who can not afford an attorney. I want to specialize in education law, juvenile law and Constitutional law.
Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye load men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. – Luke 11:46 (KJV)
Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. – Luke 11:52 (KJV)
THE SHORT VERSION
My first job was doing odd jobs around her house, a 95-year-old Jewish woman–in a home converted from a Civil War fort–from there to court stenographer for a well-known judge. After a divorce, I went from legislative aide for Katherine Harris to electrician’s helper; from journalist to teacher; as a single mother of six. I am proud to have held every one of these positions. As Paul put it in Philippians, “I know both how to be abased and how to abound”*. Most gratifying is helping people on a one-to-one basis, as in constituent response, teaching and mentoring or being an advocacy photojournalist and writer.
THE BOOK VERSION:
As a farm girl growing up in the boondocks of New York–yes, there are hillbillies in New York, a mere 75 miles from New York City–I learned hard-work ethics, while maintaining an honor roll status throughout high school. I remember waking up at 5 a.m. in blizzard conditions to milk the cow, Jane, and to feed, water and take care of 12 horses, dogs, cats, a lamb and chickens. I could not wait to graduate high school.
So it was, I went from farm life to New York City suburbs and became a live-in nanny to a 13 and 11-year-old while I worked my way through Hackensack Court Reporting and Secretarial Institute. After finishing school six months early, I was requested by Hon. Harvey R. Sorkow, the presiding judge over the Baby M case, the first surrogate mother ruling. I covered several famous people’s divorces, including that of the late Walter Cronkite.
After Judge Sorkow’s permanent reporter returned two years later, I hit the Big Apple streets in search of a steady job and ended up in Manhattan as a legal patent secretary for Bristol-Myers. We filed domestic and international patents on demanding deadlines. My husband at the time, the father of five, decided he wanted to attend chef school, the best in the U.S.–the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Taking care of two little ones during the time, I vigorously worked to help him through. I worked as a freelance court reporter and I worked at IBM in the computer design department. That is when I technology caught my attention.
When my ex-husband graduated, we moved to Litchfield Park, Ariz. on the Wigwam Resort grounds where he obtained an executive chef job. After an ectopic pregnancy, a near-death catastrophe, we had three more children. Those days were my most favored accomplishments, keeping the family emotionally and physically healthy and debt-free.
Soon after a move to Englewood, FL, however, I unexpectedly became the single mother of those five children–without child support–it appeared to me the good-ole-boy network in Charlotte County did not see the importance of forcing the well-being upon their award-winning chef father. So I decided to put myself through college full time and that is when I was pursued to become a legislative aide for Katherine Harris, a state senator at that time. She later became Florida’s Secretary of State during that controversial presidential elections, for which she became nationally known for the woman who screwed it all up. Then she was elected into Congress.
My job with Katherine came to an end and I decided I wanted nothing of office life and politics. I obtained a job as an electrician’s helper. The job was truly fun and an enjoyable learning experience, until I was scared half out of my wits by and man who did not understand the meaning of the word “No”. I went back to college and was entered in two writing competitions by my professors. To my surprise I won second place in the state. (See “Recognition and Clips” page.)
During a break I took from college after the kidnapping of my youngest son, I was hired as a journalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize nominee, The Charlotte Sun, for its coverage of Hurricane Charley–one of which my stories was republished by the U.S. Navy. During the time, I and my family were Hurricane Charley victims ourselves, living in mold for a year as several other hurricanes passed over. I kept moving on from earning an A.A. degree in political science to becoming an honor student at USF St. Pete, in the hopes of being able to attend the College of Law at Stetson.
My ambition was due in part from the days of being a court reporter, but my desire to attend law school became intensified while experiencing my single-motherhood years. I was fighting the justice system for the rights to get child support, the right to parent–my sixth child who was abducted by his father and the state attorney refused to see it as such. I did not see my two-year-old until almost a year later. He did not know who I was by that time. “It’s a civil matter, not a criminal matter,” the judicial system wrongly repeated to me.
Budget cuts at the privately owned paper caused my lay off. I used this opportunity to finish my B.A. degree in Mass Communications (Journalism). However, in the last few years, at the prodding of several of my friends, I became a teacher where I am able to mentor students to obtain a higher education while I continue to strive for that law degree, which will include Education Law, Family Law and Juvenile Justice Law.
Whether as a teacher, photojournalist, writer or attorney, I plan to use my background and skills to advocate for family and children issues.
*Philippians 4:11-13: Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned in whatever state I am, in this to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me. KJV
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” – Isaiah 52:7 KJV