Saturday, November 17, 2012
My road to ASP was through some amazing mentors, and a tragedy that shifted the direction of my career. I still work in ASP because of the students, and the amazing support of our incredible community.
I went to law school to work in education policy. I had worked in k-3 education before law school, and I loved it. But I saw political agendas, not research and science, shaping curriculum, and I decided to leave teaching so I could move policy towards sound education practices. Once I started law school, I was appalled by the teaching methods. I had some amazing, gifted teachers who gave 100% to their students, but the overall program, with large classes, little or no feedback, and vicious competition for grades, was appalling to me. So I applied to work in the RRWA program at Carolina Law, run by the phenomenal RuthAnn McKinney. I was selected to teach a spring ASP tutorial to students who volunteered to be a part of the program. I quickly found myself spending more time on my ASP lesson plans than my classwork. The perfect moment was when one of the students in the tutorial told me his grades for the semester, and he did better than I did in classes I had taken with the same teachers the year before.
I was searching for jobs in education and policy in the Boston area during my 3L year of law school. My fiance had a job at a big firm in Boston. Tragically, my fiance died unexpectedly of natural causes during our 3L year. Suddenly, I had no job, no place to live, and needed to figure out my future plans ASAP. Ruth McKinney gently nudged me away from education policy and towards ASP. Ruth passed my resume out during an LSAC ASP meeting. I got a call, and started in ASP that fall. In addition to Ruth, I had the fantastic luck to be taught by two giants in legal education, Gail Agrawal and Judith Wegner. Both Judith and Gail were instrumental in my development as a professional, and helped me find my way to ASP. If Ruth was my mentor, I can count Gail and Judith as guardian angels.
Starting off in ASP is overwhelming. I felt like I was in over my head, despite a previous career in teaching, experience teaching ASP in law school, and fantastic mentoring and support from Ruth. At my first job, I was absolutely blessed with the second amazing mentor of my career, Paula Manning. I don't think I would have stayed in ASP after that first year if it wasn't for the constant support, encouragement, and hand-holding from Paula. I loved my students, I loved my work, but Paula always had my back, professionally and personally. I think that support from the ASP community is what keeps many of us in the field, even when times are tough. We are here for our students, but it's the incredible support from the ASP community that keep us going through the hard times. (RCF)