For 15 years, I was privileged to work in school settings where school choice was present. I worked as a teacher, as Dean of Students, and then as a principal. A lot of the families that came to these schools benefited from tax credit scholarships, the ESA program specifically. I got to see, on a daily basis, parents who thought school options weren’t available come in to meet with us and find that they could in fact afford to send their kids to our schools. They thought that fit them best. So, school choice has kind of been the fabric of my educational career.
“I’ve come to view school choices as an avenue for families that thought they had no avenue.”
I’ve come to view school choices as an avenue for families that thought they had no avenue. With that in mind, when the opportunity to come to AFC and advocate for families on a national basis was presented, this was a no brainer for me. Over the last two and a half years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of school leaders who have maximized what school choice allows them to do in terms of working with parents to provide those opportunities to their kids. Just seeing the long term benefits for kids when they find the environment that really serves their needs is very fulfilling. That’s the root of my desire to be part of this movement and to advocate for kids and families.
What do you say to individuals who are in the teaching profession?
I think when you really get down to educators, you find that they get into the profession to serve kids and to serve families. They want to help those children find their path forward, to be young men and women who serve their communities well, who find happiness. Teachers want the best for kids. When you remove the politics from it, when you remove all the red tape and the bureaucracy, what you get down to is an educator who cares for a child sacrifices to give that child every opportunity to grow and get the education they want. Oftentimes I get the imagery that goes around sometimes and the teacher being a giant candle, in that wax dripping off of the teacher down onto the second platform and forming that student up below, that imagery is true.
“When you remove the politics from it, when you remove all the red tape and the bureaucracy, what you get down to is an educator who cares for a child sacrifices to give that child every opportunity to grow and get the education they want.”
Educators give so much of their time and oftentimes sacrifice things in their own lives to spend extra hours working with kids or showing up at events. At its purest form, this has nothing to do with politics and bureaucracy. It has everything to do with love and compassion and caring.
Is there anything else you want people to know about your story?
The focus always needs to stay on the children and what’s best for the children. We need to take that approach and stick to it without getting caught up in ZIP codes, boundaries, tuition, costs, and different things like that. We have to look at what the parent feels is best for their child. Where does the child feel most comfortable and how is the child going to grow, what environment gives them the best chance to achieve all they’re capable of? That’s when we’re truly serving the kids. Putting the focus on the kids is the best way to find positive outcomes for them. I always joke that anyone who votes on educational policy should be required to have an office that overlooks a kindergarten playground, because at its purest form, what we’re there to do in education is to serve those kids and provide the best environment for them. All kids in all environments. No single environment is right for every child. Therefore it’s essential that parents have choices. They know their kids best. They know what will serve their family best. They need these opportunities to take advantage of those environments and have their kids grow in a way that will help them over their educational careers.