My professional path started began as an elementary teacher who loved technology. As the story goes, I became incredibly burnt out long ago when there were no pathways to healing. Nobody wanted to talk about sad teachers, or so I was told. Although edtech and mental health might seem like completely different topics (they're not), they were my life for many years. I was a technology integrator and then a Director of Innovation and Technology, but I was trying to heal from the stress and strain of the classroom many years after I left it. My goal was to help other people and advocate for policy change. I strive to be the mental health advocate that I needed years ago.
There is a significant amount of gatekeeping when it comes to the mental health field which I sometimes struggle with as it can make one feel less than qualified to advocate for what's right. I am not a counselor or a therapist. I only work from my own experiences as someone who has had to heal from childhood trauma and the teacher who needed to heal from my classroom experiences. On more than one occasion I was called the Brene Brown of education (which is both flattering, humbling, and probably untrue), and was told by a therapist friend of mine that the counseling profession could take notes from me. However, I do not ever advertise myself as a counselor. I do regularly discuss the importance of seeing a therapist or counselor. But I am an advocate and have been exceedingly grateful that you don't need a mental health degree or certification to try to create change for those who need it.
I spend much of my time consulting with school districts and post-secondary institutions on the effective use of technology to support great teaching, emotional engagement, mental health advocacy, burnout support for educators, and how to create organizational change in education.
I am passionate about learning and my profession in general, but my two favorite components of my position are being able to provide professional learning opportunities and present/keynote conferences. I believe that by providing these opportunities to teachers, I am in turn able to reach many more students and ultimately affect their learning experiences. Also, on a personal side note, I was insanely afraid of public speaking throughout my life until I reached college. At that time I took multiple public speaking courses to try to get over my fear of speaking in front of people to the point where it was silly for me not to declare it as my minor because I had so many credits. The ability to get up in front of adults (which is not the same as getting up in front of kids) and not bawl like a baby is one of my accomplishments that I’m most proud of. Just another reason I think I like providing professional learning opportunities, presenting & keynoting.
My first book, The Fire Within: Lessons from defeat that have ignited a passion for learning, and discusses mental health awareness for teachers. My second book, Divergent EDU, is based on an organizational structure I developed to support teachers in innovative and divergent thinking. My third book, based on educator engagement, is titled Reignite the Flames which has a companion guide/workbook titled The Educator’s Matchbook.
At home you’ll usually find me talking to my family or spending copious amounts of time telling my dogs they're pretty or my horse he's handsome. I love coffee and have a hard time being friends with people who don’t. Mostly, I have devoted my life to finding what makes me happy…and seeing others happy fills my cup.
If this is important to you, here is my educational background:
Bachelor's Degree: Elementary Education
Master's Degree: Information and Communication Technologies
Master's Degree: Educational Leadership (Principal and Director of Instruction Certifications)
Doctorate: Educational Sustainability (in-process)
Certification: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (in-process)
Certification in Alternative Education