Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Laurie. We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
Six years ago, I was living in New York City chasing my childhood dream of becoming an actor while working as an assistant teacher at a private early childhood school, when I came across Randy Pausch’s lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” In his lecture, Dr. Pausch describes how becoming a college professor gave him the incredible opportunity to enable the childhood dreams of others. Dr. Pausch’s inspiring lecture along with many personal life lessons I have experienced led me down the path of becoming an educator. For me, being an educator that equips future generations with the knowledge to create meaning out of their lives is a worthy vocation. At this point in my life, I know that I want to make my work matter.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career?
Since Dr. Pausch posthumously inspired me, there have been many other educators, influencers, students, and parents that have kept me moving onward in the field of education. This past year I worked with a life coach and therapist who both helped me navigate my career goals and discover ways to lead a more peaceful, fulfilling, and balanced life. I’m still on this whole-hearted journey to pursue vocational opportunities that utilize my strengths and make a positive impact in the world. Even if you’re all grown up, learning doesn’t end!
What is one thing you are most proud of achieving in your life?
I am most proud of myself for taking the risk of moving to NYC to try to achieve my childhood dreams. It turns out, I discovered that wasn’t really what I wanted. However, I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t try. I’m reading this good book called The Next Right Thing right now and there is this quote by Anne Patchett that goes along with this idea of taking risks. “Sometimes the circumstances at hand force us to be braver than we actually are, and so we knock on doors and ask for assistance. Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.” Also, I became a parent while I was living in NYC as well, and learning how to parent is something I’m proud of and am continuing to learn.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am most grateful to my parents. My mom was an elementary school teacher and my dad worked at a plant. My parents grew up poor and valued education because it helped them both achieve a better life in a small Texas town. I learned about hard work and dedication from them. Even though it was difficult for them to understand my passion for theatre, they both supported my choice to become an actress and even move to NYC. Then, they joyfully supported me in my decision to move back to Texas with their granddaughter and continued offering support through babysitting while I worked on obtaining my teaching certification and working full time.
What do you enjoy most about teaching/tutoring?
Teaching and tutoring are like wrapping a lot of gifts for someone that you know they’ll like and then creating a scavenger hunt for them. During the adventure, some gifts are easy to find and some take a lot longer to find and there can be a lot of frustration and emotions along the way. Yet, often those gifts are the best and bring the most joy once you work through the challenges. I most enjoy creating the learning experience with the student in mind and watching them open the gifts.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Honestly, I am making it a practice to enjoy free time and to regularly schedule it. It is easy for me to be a work-acholic, but everyone needs time for play! I enjoy going on walks in beautiful parks with my husband and daughter. I love reading, drinking coffee, getting together with friends or calling them on the phone, watching plays, and playing with my daughter. Sometimes she and I have impromptu dance parties at the house. We love “Soy Yo” by Bomba Estereo! Also, strangely cleaning, organizing, and decorating can at times feel refreshing to me.
If you were granted three wishes, what would they be and why?
If I were granted three wishes, the first would be to make sure all children in the world had a safe home that provided for their basic needs and a loving adult that was a reliable, constant positive influence in their life. My second wish would be to match every student in the world with the right course of education based on their learning preferences and with a team of knowledgeable educators who could recognize what environment and type of school would best help that student learn and grow. Money would not be a problem! Lastly, somehow a worldwide initiative would be launched to teach the whole world how to respectfully engage in discussion and even debate. Perhaps each country could adopt its own guidelines and rules and there would be accountability if you didn’t follow them. I also think it would be important for accountability to include forgiveness. Justice is important but, from my perspective, forgiveness and justice go together.
Is there something exciting you are working on now? What is it and why did you choose to start it?
Currently, I’ve been learning about the field of instructional design. I’m sure you’re wondering, “What is that?” So many have said that to me when I mention what I’m working on. An instructional designer understands how people learn and creates learning experiences for people. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, e-learning has become a vibrant field for instructional designers. They can work in corporate, K-12 education, higher education, or for non-profits. I decided to start learning about creating e-learning courses because it utilizes what I most like about education. I think it is beautiful to create a learning story that someone can work on asynchronously and then come together from all parts of the world to connect over their experience of the carefully crafted learning journey.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? What is it and why did it resonate with you?
Do I have to choose one? So many books have made a difference in my life. Books to me are the absolute best. Most recently, I loved “Make Work Matter” by Michaela O’Donnell, Phd. She is the executive director of Fuller Seminary’s De Pree Center for Leadership. The book was published recently and offers practical advice on ways to navigate the workforce of our generation. It resonated with me because I agree with her that we are living in “an age of overwhelm” where “change is our new constant companion.” Ultimately, Dr. O’Donnell also gives such hopeful advice and practical tools to navigate your vocation and consider where your strengths meet the world’s needs.
Is there a person in the world with whom you would love to have a private lunch and why? He/she might just see this! 🙂
I think I’d like to have lunch with Kathy Keller, Dr. Tim Keller’s wife. Dr. Tim Keller is a pastor that started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC and his teaching has impacted my life. I think I would be too nervous to talk to Dr. Keller, but Mrs. Keller is the woman at his side. She’s the support to this very intelligent man and I know she’s very well-read. I’d love to ask her about her favorite books and her life.