“I wore braces on my legs when I was little. I was so pigeon-toed I would catch the back of my leg, fall, get back up, and keep going. I had a PE teacher in elementary school who always encouraged me. I wanted to be like her. In 5th grade, I wrote her a letter that I wanted to be the best PE teacher ever. I wanted to be like her, not the other PE teacher I had. My other PE teacher wouldn’t let girls climb the rope that went to the rafters because he said we couldn’t do it. I had a rope swing in my back yard and climbed it every day. I kept asking. Finally, he made the whole class stop and sit down to watch me climb it. He said, ‘If Emily doesn’t make it, she can never ask me again.’ I was going to die on that rope before I didn’t make it to the top. I climbed to the top and after that, any girl who wanted to try could climb that rope. It’s not that every girl, or boy, wanted to climb the rope, but they had the opportunity. I wanted to be the PE teacher that encouraged every child and found the strength that each one has. I love helping a kid who is struggling to jump a rope or throw and catch and they finally get it. I get to tell them how awesome they are. Some kids may not shine in class, but they get to PE and can be good at something. Or they improve. It builds their self-confidence.
I ran cross country and track at Auburn and went straight to work in school. I tell the kids I have been in school since I was in kindergarten. That is a long time to eat square pizza. I have been a teacher for 32 years and at Newton since it opened. I have loved every minute of it. When that spark is gone, I will retire. Kids come back and tell me I have made a difference in their lives. There is nothing better than that. If we tell kids they are no good or unwanted. They believe it. It is up to us as teachers to find the spark in every kid. You can tell when one of them is having a bad day. As a PE teacher, I see kids every day from year to year and see the changes in them. I see if they become quiet and withdrawn and we need to check on it. I drive the school bus and sometimes they get on crying or tell me a something that happened to them at home and we get school resources involved.
I was adopted when I was six months old. I don’t know my birth parents, but I am so blessed that Bill and Irene decided to take me in. I showed up running and going from day one. They came to every track meet and could not have loved me more. My dad volunteered in the community and I got that from him. My parents died a year apart on the same day. I don’t know where I would be if I had not been raised in such a loving family, but life with my birth parents would not have been like this. Maybe this is why I have such a heart to love every child no matter who they are or where they come from.
I became a Scout leader because of my boys. Neither of my them cared about T-ball so I took them to the Cub Scout roundup night. They asked for a den leader. I failed at being a Girl Scout, but my kid wanted to do it so I volunteered and never looked back. I believe Scouting and the lessons it teaches our kids is invaluable. We need folks who are willing to volunteer and give time to our kids in scouting, school, sports, or anywhere. It may only be an hour a week, but it blossoms from there.”