New teachers face tremendous challenges when they step foot into Oklahoma classrooms for the first…
What do you do at TLI?
My official title is Manager of Teacher Development and Communications. In short, I coach teachers and lead professional development. I also handle communications for TLI including our social media, website, and external communications.
How did your career path lead you to TLI?
I began my career in education as a middle school teacher at Tulsa and Union Public Schools teaching science and reading. Eventually, I left the classroom to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and pursue answers to questions about education that had been brewing during my time in the classroom. After graduating with my degree in education policy, I came back to Oklahoma and worked as an education policy analyst at the Oklahoma Policy Institute. During my time at OK Policy I was steeped in state level policy making and wrote about the impact those policies would have on students, teachers and families. While this advocacy work was fulfilling, I missed the classroom. I joined TLI so that I could support teachers across the state and continue to do work that addresses educational inequities in our state.
What is your favorite thing about doing this work?
Working with teachers! Being in the classroom brings me so much joy. I have the privilege of observing teachers every week and meeting with them one-on-one to reflect on their practice. It’s also really fun to get to know their students and witness the hard work teachers our into their classrooms. Teachers in Oklahoma deserve higher salaries, more resources, and smaller class sizes. Supporting teachers as a coach feels like one way I can help teachers get the support and development they deserve.
What do you hope for students in Oklahoma?
I want all Oklahoma students to have access to an equitable education, and this means all students will have access to highly skilled teachers. I think this starts with teacher salaries that are commensurate with their hard work and talent. Teaching is incredibly difficult work that requires technical execution skills and hours of skillful planning. I want teachers to be paid enough so they don’t have to worry about providing for their own families, and so they don’t have to sacrifice their own well-being. Coupled with adequate professional development support, highly qualified teachers would lead Oklahoma students to better outcomes. I also hope that low-income students and students of color have teachers who are well prepared to meet their distinct needs.
What else should we know about you?
I am originally from upstate New York, but Oklahoma has become my home! I live with my fiancee (we’re getting hitched in June 2022!) Jesse, our dog Ollie, and cat Kodie. You can reliably find me either playing tennis, biking, running, or gardening when I’m not working. One of my favorite places in Oklahoma is the Tallgrass Prairie in Pawhuska, OK, and I squeal with delight every time I see bison.