Q. Where did you go to college? What did your education look like?
A. So I went to HCC for two years, actually, great decision. And from there I transferred to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I went there, majored in special education with a concentration in sign language interpreting, so I got to work with kids from K to fifth grade for my internship. They were wonderful and I loved them. Then, yeah, I worked at different camps and different programs in the summers during that time to help kids with special needs and with different disabilities.
Q. That’s so cool, so is this the first school you’ve taught at?
A. No. Well, I was a paraeducator for four years in the Academic Life Skills department at Patuxent Valley Middle School. So I was there for four years and then I was offered the job here and I came on over to high school. I graduated from middle school and came on over to high school!
Q. What are some things you really like about Atholton?
A. I honestly really, really like it here. I was nervous about coming to high school, I’m not gonna lie. I was this dorky kid that loved middle school and high school was just “meh”, it was high school, but honestly, I loved it. The community that you guys have here is, I think, the biggest thing that jumps out at the get-go; everybody knows each other, all the staff knows each other, everybody’s supportive of each other, especially that staff supporting the students and the students being nice to the staff. All over you can feel that everybody believes in this school and wants the best for it. So I think that’s really cool because I came from a school that had such a strong community and I was, you know, nervous about coming to a new school because I would lose that, but it’s been beyond what I could have imagined.
Q. How has Atholton been different from other places you’ve taught at before?
A. So, it’s very different from middle school. I think it’s different in the sense of, really the community. Not that the school I came from didn’t have a strong community, it really did, a really strong foundation, but I think that the atmosphere that you guys have created you have worked really hard for it and it’s something that I walked in the building my first day and you could feel it. From the students, from the staff, you can feel that everybody is happy here, everybody is proud of the school and I think the fact that that is a universal thing I feel when I go throughout the school is something that is definitely different and not something that I think is in every school, unfortunately, and I think this school is a good model for that.
Q. Thank you. So what inspires you to be the teacher that you are?
A. Well, so, I’m teaching English right now. And reading and things like that were never my strong suits growing up. I was the kid that wanted to watch the movie, I didn’t want to read the book, but I think it was that I had teachers in middle school and in high school that, you know, were like, ‘I know that this is going to be challenging but just go for it. Keep reading, keep pushing yourself to try new things’. And I also had teachers that didn’t quite hit that mark and I was like ‘you know what, I want to teach because I want to be that teacher for kids that I never had’. In high school, in particular, I had loved English all growing up, so in high school, in particular, English was a difficult subject for me and I was like, ‘you know what, I’m going to go to high school and be that English teacher that I never had and if I can make one kid enjoy a book this year then I’ve met my goal. But really, it’s trying to share with kids that books or school, or no matter what your path is in life, you can open yourself up to the world and there’s more than just one book, one story. Like Harry Potter, we’re reading Harry Potter, and one of my kids was like ‘well, I don’t like to read’ and I was like ‘yeah, but if you read this story, it’s going to open you up to a new world’ and that concept was something that they all were like ‘what? What do you mean?’ but it’s true. I mean, look at the community and the culture that Harry Potter has created and been able to open up kid’s eyes who have never experienced that before is really cool. I think every story was written for a reason and if you can open up people’s eyes to that, I think it’s really cool.
Q. I think it’s really cool you mention that because I have teachers now that inspire me athletically and academically and it’s really cool that I get to see that from a teacher’s point of view. But if you weren’t a teacher, what field of work do you think you would be in?
A. Oh, I don’t know. You know what, I think I would like to be a writer. Because I love reading stories and I think it would be fun if I could take ideas I had in my head and was able to produce something because I’ve always enjoyed writing, I’ve always thought it was fun and I admire people who could write a whole book because I’m good if I get a paragraph of an idea down. So yeah, I think a writer. Or a photographer! Uhm, funny enough, in high school all I wanted to be was a photographer. I was like, ‘I’m gonna be a photographer, I’m gonna be famous!’ clearly that did not happen, but there is something about photography and about being able to capture a moment for people that will last forever that I’ve always enjoyed and I do that as a hobby and I do writing as, like, a hobby, but I don’t know, I think both of those, if I could make a living off of it, it would be cool.
Q. So do you have any music that you’re into or any TV shows that you really like?
A. Music, I’m a nerd. I’m a big nerd, you’ll discover that about me if you talk to me for a decent amount of time, I love show tunes. Showtunes are so fun and I love musicals and I think that’s because in high school I gravitated a lot towards the musical theater program, I was never the person on stage, I was behind the scenes doing stuff but I love the music. And Broadway shows are just fun, I think that’s mostly due to Disney music. I do love Disney music! There’s just something about that you just put it one and you’re automatically happy! TV shows, I love Stranger Things, love Stranger Things! I uh…(laughs for a while) I love ghost shows! Like the ghost hunting shows! Oh, I live for them and I don’t know if it’s, I mean, ghosts are fun and you can believe in them, not believe in them, whatever, but watching those shows is just, to me, harmless. I could be in the middle of doing something and I could pop it on, or pop on a Youtuber who does creepy videos and, like, they’re just entertaining. They’re like my reality TV, like, maybe they’re real, maybe they’re fake, but it is so fun to watch! Ghost Hunters I loved when it was on, but lately, I’ve been kinda sucked into the Youtubers that do creepy stories and stuff, but yeah, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, The Ghost of Shepard’s Town, that haunted town that’s in Virginia I think. I just went there recently and it’s definitely haunted I think. But yeah, I love those kinds of shows. They’re just fun, I don’t know. And I’m the only one out of my whole family and friends that gets a kick out of those shows, everybody else is just like, ‘turn it off, it’s so crazy’ and I’m like, ‘but it’s so good though’!
Q. Does that kind of translate into what types of books you read?
A. I am a sucker for a good spooky story! I love Stephen King, I love him. I recently have been listening to “IT” on audiobook, do NOT listen to it alone when you have the lights off. Because I like to listen to audiobooks at night, just to relax and stuff but that book is too creepy to listen to because the guy does all the creepy voices and stuff like the clown and you’re just like ‘oh, no no no’. No, but I love it because I love horror films, horror is my favorite genre of film, which a lot of people don’t guess about me because I love Disney and stuff like that, but I love creepy stories, love Goosebumps, those were my favorite books growing up. And then, like, those creepy stories that had those creepy covers, I forget what they’re called but they still circle around, I see them all the time. So yeah, books wise I love creepy stories, but really anything that catches my eye. I try not to judge a book by its’ cover but definitely spooky anything I will try to get into and hope it’s a good story.
Q. One last one, do you have a go-to Dunkin or Starbucks order? I know Starbucks is a really big thing right now.
A. I do love Starbucks. At Starbucks, I tend to get soy hot chocolate. I love it because it just tastes better than the regular, other hot chocolate for some reason. My friend once was like, ‘you should try the soy hot chocolate’ and I was like, ‘oh okay’ and it turned out to be much better. And then there was also, there was one other drink that I tried there that I really liked. It was like some apple cinnamon, it tasted like fall in a cup. It wasn’t their pumpkin drink, it was some sort of apple spice drink, it was basically like some heated up apple juice if we’re honest, but it tasted really good, so I would say those. I don’t really drink coffee too much, like, I like the taste but too much caffeine, that’s not good.