The Long Story of How I Wound Up in Education

If you wound up here, you’re likely interested in ‘the long story’. And, while I am delighted to hear from you, comments are not open on this page. Feel free to use the comments section on my About page, or reach me via email.

My career path has been a wide meander for much of my adult life. i graduated with a BS in Business Management at a time when ‘business was the way to go’ for job opportunities, stability and possibility (future advancement). Except, the 1987 market crash left many of us out of opportunity fresh out of college.  I wound up with an excellent position as a Compliance Analyst for a regional broker/dealer connected to a military-based insurance company.  My immediate boss was a woman who was about 10 years older than me, and was an inspiring mentor. At the two year mark, I was ready to move on and landed a coveted Legal Assistant position in a national law firm with a remarkable D.C. practice. This was to be my preliminary step toward law school. It turned out to be so much more. While I began working for the Mergers and Acquisitions group, the Banking/Securities legislative practice group became my true calling. After working a few M&A deals (the beginnings of the era of big banking, venture capital groups and hedge funds) I realized I had no interest in this line of work, or for the cutthroat behaviors of the players on the field. The B&S Group, however, was doing cutting-edge work on the forefront of technology and finance and they needed unrecognized eyes and ears to keep track of all the moving parts (before the Internet was invented).  So, I traipsed to Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodities Futures Trading Commission and Federal Reserve Bank public hearings; attended congressional hearings and sat in on meetings my attorneys were invited to but too busy to attend. I was very good at my job, and young enough to devote countless hours thereafter writing detailed summaries of the meetings, gathering transcripts and preparing talking points for our clients to utilize. When the savings and loan crisis hit in 1988, I was there to do the same for the banking side. And, when the M&A gang jumped into the pond to repackage and sell off the assets of the failed institutions, I was their front-person: going to prepare asset valuation packages for the buyers’ and sellers’ attorneys to bicker over for 2-3 days and then buy/sell. Then, one day, I woke up and looked in a mirror. And, I asked myself ‘what on earth are you doing?’ There is a story behind that, too, but suffice it to say I had a revelation about who I was and what I stood for that day that compelled me to look for work that made me feel like a good human being.

My next ‘leap’ was to move to Richmond, Virginia.  I was newly married and we were expecting our first child. I dabbled in transactional legal work, small business advising and state/local education policy.  I was interested in teaching high school, but did not wind up going that route while my children were young and my husband was in graduate school (earning his MAEd. to teach high school). Instead, I chose to again change paths. I wrote news articles for a local paper focusing on the activities of the Board of Supervisors and the School Board mostly, but sometimes taking on a feature story or community member profile. Around the same time I was offered an opportunity to assist the local chamber of commerce with membership services and I was hooked. Two part-time jobs and two children kept me way busier than I ever imagined I would be. It only took a couple of years for me to realize that long days and longer nights were not part of my dream.

Just about that same time we were faced with a dilemma with our first-born (DD). She was a wonderful child: bright, eager to please, cheerful, sweet, thoughtful, and brilliant.  It sounds like bragging, but I am not the one who came up with that adjective. The bottom line is that the public school she attended could not meet her academic needs, in spite of my efforts to work with/support the staff and principal in doing so. We tried a private school that boasted an ‘individualized curriculum’, but found that while it looked good from the outside, the reality was that the school was most interested in catering to its wealthier families and not so much in providing our child with the education she was desperate for.  The following year we leapt into homeschooling: I hit the recent research, joined a local co-op and started to put together a plan to get through the year with something to show for it.  Overall, it was an amazing year of all of us learning and growing, and experiencing something we never had before. The irony was that DD wanted desperately to go to school – to sit in a classroom with a teacher who was eager to teach, surrounded by other children.