The sheer joy of curling up with a good book for hours of reading proved a constant companion as I grew up in rural Mississippi. Nothing at that time transported me more quickly into the realm of dreams and possibility than the journey of a tale told well. Truth be told, a good book still proves a great force in my life.
My mother, determined that all of her children would be avid readers, commandeered my four older siblings into reading to me on a regular basis. My only brother, seven years older than I, announced on a regular basis his belief that he would someday become a published writer. Whether it was the sheer awe that I had for my big brother or the many books that I enjoyed in my early, formative years, the idea of someday being a writer set off a spark in my young mind. Then two amazing teachers, one fifth grade, one seventh, sealed the deal that I would become a teacher. The dye had been cast.
In 1970 I graduated from John Rundle High School in Grenada, MS, knowing I wanted to be an English teacher. Even though I could not at that time put the now well-established conclusion into words, I instinctively understood I had chosen a career path where my work would be my play and my play would be my work. Five years later I had earned, from Delta State University, both a BS in Education and a Masters of Art in English while dabbling in any art class I could pack into a busy schedule.
Higher education continued to unfold for me equally within a greater Community of Learners ... the people I taught alongside, as well as, the students I learned from at Quitman County High School; the unique collection of residents, the farmers, the pecan grove owners, the post mistress in the small Belen community ... the diverse Delta mix of people, along with a cadre of strong women such as Miss Edna and Miss Alice.
Unknowingly, I was honing an approach to education that would later become the backbone of The Learning Center method: individual access to education that has the goal of moving all students towards full potential. The same driving mission is now reflected in the Project Blu Sky Initiative that nurtures transformation within a Community of Learners through the teach, reach, develop, enhance and replicate process.
Roots and legacy are both treasured elements in understanding the details of what makes me tick and what fills my writing and professional projects. From my earliest days in Nations Poplar Creek, to growing up in Gore Springs and Grenda alongside the land washed and formed by the Mississippi River, to the Appalachian Mountains that are now my home ... all have produced a treasured, naturally grown sense of place. My family, both blood and found, the generations of ancestors before me, and the future that I see in the faces of my two children and four grandchildren, all fuel my belief to dedicate my work and creative energy toward an inclusive and equitable future for all the lives I have the privilege of serving and influencing.