My division at work does a really cool “Employee Spotlight” feature once a month. Our division is fairly widespread and it’s not uncommon for me to only see some of my colleagues once or twice a year at large staff meetings due to proximity and job responsibilities. This feature was added about a year or two ago and it has become one of my favorite emails to receive. I love reading about people and learning a little more about them other then the work-face we interact with. I don’t know about you, but the “career me” is considerably different then the “real me” in regards to personal interactions and conversations.
My spotlight was last week, so I thought it’d be fun to share with my readers as well!
Position: Director of High School Outreach
City of residence: Omaha, NE
Inhabitants at my residence:
- Clint (husband)
- Kyle (the college-going 20 year old bonus kid who appears at our house once a year, if we are lucky)
- Harley (the cat)
- The real Harley (my baby who sleeps in a garage and not in a crib)
- August 2011 (Associate Dean of Instructor, Academic Affairs)
- January 2014 (Director of HS Outreach, Student Services)
My role at IWCC: I am going to keep it incredibly vague. Under the guidance of the Iowa Department of Education’s Senior Year Plus programming and NACEP accreditation, I oversee all operational and administrative aspects of College Early Start which allows High School students to enroll in college classes. Natalie oversees the Southwest Iowa Workplace Connection focusing on connecting high school students and teachers to local careers, through work-based learning experiences and Jake, Secondary CTE Advisor, promotes career and technical education via a variety of practices. Natalie and Jake work very closely together on initiatives.
What brought me to IWCC: Prior to IWCC, I was a music teacher for South Page Community Schools in College Springs, IA and Omaha Public Schools for a combined 6 years. After finishing my Masters programs I was ready for an administrative role and began applying for leadership positions at the Secondary level. In 2011 I went through a promising AP interview process but was passed over by an internal candidate. That bummer experience ended up being a blessing in disguise as it opened my eyes to post-secondary education and the Associate Dean position at IW.
What I like best about working for IWCC: I specifically enjoy my position as it keeps me heavily involved in the secondary school system, which was my first true career love. The position keeps me on my toes with the ever-evolving State legislation changes and NACEP accreditation requirements. I enjoy the challenge and the immense knowledge I’ve gained and the professional growth I’ve experienced from working at IWCC.
Best job before IWCC: Working for South Page Community Schools. I was the Director of Bands, 6-12th grade Choral director, competitive cheerleading coach, dance team sponsor, junior class prom sponsor, etc. Listen. When you are a teacher in a rural district, you don’t just teach. You do everything. I loved every second of every day when I was around those students, and with my lineup of responsibilities, I basically lived at the school. From 6am rehearsals/practices, to late night games, to cheer competitions across the state. You name it, I was there. I was young and fresh out of undergrad and had a ton of fun learning and growing with them.
I’m happiest when: I’m on my Harley, the sun is shining and an ice cold beverage is on the horizon.
My biggest fear: Alzheimer’s. Losing my cognitive ability at a young age.
I’m proudest of: As a teenager I faced some adversity that some would allow to change them, or use those experiences as excuses for bad decisions. I was presented with two paths I could have followed, either one impacting my future greatly. I chose the middle road. I chose to take my experiences from the evil and the good in my life and create a middle ground that fit me. I am proud of that. In 2006 I went through some crazy life changes. I call it my quarter-life crisis. It was the real deal, y’all. At 25 I quit my job, moved out of my beautiful country home in Clarinda, left my bff’s and family and the only life I had known for 25 years and moved to Omaha with no job lined up, a U-Haul with all of my belongings and settled into a house in West O with two High School friends who opened their arms and hearts. It was a life-changing few years that followed and I wouldn’t trade one single experience, the good and questionable, from those years. I am proud of that.
I strive to live life in the present moment.
I don’t take things for granted.
What I do when I’m not working at IWCC: I am teaching fitness classes at IWCC and the YMCA or I am training future fitness instructors on the weekends as part of my Master Trainer role. I am attending concerts (total junkie) with friends or chilling with my hubs in our backyard around a campfire. I am on the Harley by myself for some solo and self-reflection time or I am riding with 30+ of my biker friends cruising the back-roads of Nebraska and Iowa.
Top three highlights of my life:
- Not being afraid of starting over at the age of 25. That reset button was hard to push, but it was completely worth it.
- Auditioning to be a fitness Master Trainer at the age of 34. I consider myself a non-traditional fitness spokesperson and I didn’t let age or body type stop me from pursuing that dream.
- Marrying Clint in 2011. And not just because of all that mushy love yuck. But because we compliment each other. He gets me to see the world through a relax and don’t try to control every aspect of life lens. We operate as a married unit but also as individuals with our own lives. We respect each other, encourage each other to seek out new opportunities and set higher goals and we both love sushi. Win!
People would be surprised to know:
- I used to play clarinet for the Nebraska Wind Symphony. While I was teaching for South Page, I also traveled to Omaha from Clarinda (and back) every Monday evening for rehearsals. I took a hiatus for a few years but am auditioning to be a part of the 2017-18 ensemble soon.
- My 25 year old brother Gabriel is a dwarf. He’s the coolest cat you could ever know and challenges me to find the “art” in life. Not that I want you to stalk me on the world of social media, but I did a little fact sheet on Gabe and included additional information on dwarfism if interested in a little education: Click here.
Work-related hidden talent/special skill: Not Excel, that’s for sure.
Favorite song, or book, or movie, or food (or all four!):
- Song: Impossible to choose. Music junkie in all aspects, remember?
- Current book: The Mindful School Leader by Valerie Brown. I am in a grad level class for CEU’s to keep my K-12 administrative license active. I recommend it as it’s been a great read!
- Movie: Sweet Home Alabama
- Food: mashed potatoes
Best vacation: All of the vacays spent on the Harley. Sturgis! Specifically our first visit when Clint proposed at Full Throttle Saloon on the bridge. Our second visit we made it on TV for our 5 seconds of fame, thanks to the Full Throttle TV series. Sadly FTS burned down in 2015, shortly after our third visit. Bikes, Blues and BBQ Rally in Arkansas takes a top spot as well. WOAH! Arkansas is gorgeous and even better from the seat of a motorcycle.