Spencer Graves Mom Started From The Bottom

It's International Women's Day and I wanted to share a recent conversation I had with my Dad. My mom, Dayl, was an educator for 36 years. She retired at the age of 55, due to a diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer's disease. While I lived my Mom's career, I didn't really know how it all came to be, so my Dad filled in the blanks.

My Mom went to college and graduated with a degree in education. From there, she went overseas and taught. It was there my Mom found her passion for children, the process of learning and cultural education. When she came back to the US, she began teaching home economics, a class that is rarely offered now. My Mom was also the sex education teacher and child development. "Your mother was seen as a leader in the classroom and that's when opportunities were given." My Mom decided to take an opportunity and become an assistant principal in a neighboring middle school. I can still remember the sweatshirts that she had designed and sold to parents to raise money. "I am a Porter Supporter." On the shirt were children, a playground and animals.

In 1992, my family moved to a little country town in Virginia. My Mom thought that maybe she would step back from education to raise my brother and I, be a stay-at-home parent and homemaker. After a few weeks, she told my Dad that she was bored and wanted to be back in the schools. She made the decision to apply as a principal to see if she could get the job. My Dad told me about the conversations they had behind closed doors. People had told her "you have no experience in the state" and others warned of "the good ol' boy network." My Mom wasn't worried because she was qualified. Ultimately, my Mom went to the city schools and was hired on the spot. The Superintendent of the district was a firm believer in diversity.

"Create your own opportunities and when you're given one, take it!"

Photo: Spencer Graves

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