After graduating from Auburn University I found myself in the same place as many graduates, looking toward my future. I did not go to college with the intent of becoming an educator. At the time a career of community service in education was not my plan. The business environment surrounding Auburn University presented a unique opportunity for me to start and run my own family-owned business. Being a well-established college town, the student housing availability was lagging the demand created by a student population that was growing and looking for affordable housing off campus. With backing from family members and a knowledge of the demand in the local market, I secured contacts to build 6 residential rental units in the form of duplexes that would serve as off-campus housing for students in the Auburn area. The units were completed on time and long-term leases were secured on each unit prior to completion. I spent the next few years as owner and operator of this venture which also afforded me my next opportunity. The income I generated from this business and the flexible hours associated with running my business opened the doors for me to return to school and seek my first advanced degree in business. Still thinking I would ultimately pursue a career in the business sector, I recognized the need and demand from both large and small organizations for skilled professionals with knowledge of budgeting and controlling the costs of business associated with personnel. I enrolled at Troy University where I continued my educational pursuit and excelled in the program eventually graduating with a 3.8 GPA earning my Masters of Science in Human Resources Management. The program was designed with significant input from the business community incorporating leadership skills, business administration, project management, business logistics and processes, stakeholder relations, as well as the management of information systems. The managerial skills I acquired then and use now daily serve me well and give me a unique perspective into the business of educating children.
"The professors in my graduate program recognized something in me that I had not recognized in myself and began to talk with me about considering a career in higher education as a professor."
As I approached graduation and had the opportunity to teach some classes as a contract instructor through Auburn University, I began to understand and experience the joy that can only be felt when you as an individual share knowledge with another and enhance both of your lives in the process. Because of my experiences, I decided to continue in my graduate work seeking a doctoral degree. At the time I did not realize that my graduation date from my masters program would prevent me from entering the programs I was considering in the fall. Subsequently I had the opportunity to return to Santa Rosa County and work in the school system during the time while I was waiting to start my doctoral program. After many prayers about walking the path intended for me and experiencing the joys of working with Santa Rosa County students daily, the day never came for me to resume my quest for a doctorate. During the next summer break I returned to Auburn, sold the business I had successfully run while putting myself through college, and returned to Santa Rosa County to start a career and begin a life giving back to the community that had given me so much.
Having served as a teacher, a dean of students, an assistant principal, a principal and now as a district level administrator, I can tell you that there is a definite art to the profession of teaching. The skills demonstrated by an effective teacher and the bond he or she forms with their student is nothing short of magic and an element that I hold in the highest regards along with any other professional that excels in his or her position. At the same time, one cannot ignore the business aspect and demands generated by an organization employing over 3100 individuals and operating on a budget approaching $370,000,000.00. The skill set I have developed through the years, by starting as a business owner and now serving as an educator, places me in the unique position of understanding and appreciating the art of the education profession while at the same time having the tangible proven skills to effectively run and manage a large organization.