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.
Unknowingly, I had undertaken my higher education in a way that would someday shape the approach to education that I would offer through the founding of The Learning Center as a private school in 1983, that then evolved into a North Carolina Charter School in 1997. Yes, I had been immersed in tracking and learning within an individual path of discovery, the same opportunity that I now insist must be a given, not an exception, in any student’s school experience if we expect our students, our future, to reach full potential. The individual learning path of discovery is also the present driving goal behind Project Blu Sky, a transformation in education movement. What an honor it is to work and play alongside a team of educators dedicated to growing our Community of Learners as we transform other Communities of Learners through the teach, reach, develop, enhance and replicate process.
Roots and legacy are both treasured elements in understanding the About Me details of what makes me tick and what fills my writing and professional education projects. My heart strings always tug toward rural and underserved. My birth place in the backwoods area of Sibleton and Poplar Creek near the small town of Kilmichael, MS, the red clay dirt I continued to play in as we moved to the Gore Springs community, out from Grenada, MS, the small teachers’ college I chose along with my first teaching job, both located in the heart of the dark-soiled land washed by the Mississippi River, known as the Delta, and the years now spent in the Appalachian mountain region of far-western North Carolina, all have built in me a treasured, naturally grown sense of place. My family, the generations of ancestors before me, my siblings and, of course, the future that I see in the precious faces of my two children and my grandchildren, all fuel my belief to dedicate my work and creative energy toward an inclusive and equitable future for the lives I have the privilege of serving and influencing.