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This is the second in a series of profiles of people who inspire. The series is written by Toledo community members who are attending college through the University of Toledo’s Teach Toledo program in order to earn their Bachelor of Education degrees and become licensed P-12 teachers.
 

My Cousin, the Principal: A Conversation with Christina

By Robert Fletcher
Guest Article

“When I was growing up, I wanted to be rich; then I picked the least likely job to make you rich,” she told me jokingly as she typed at her computer. Putting in notes and doing paperwork at 5:30 in the evening has become a norm for the second year assistant principal at Scott High School in Toledo, Ohio. “I’m really busy… a lot of helping teachers, helping the students, a lot of answering parents’ phone calls. First thing in the morning, I deal with parents’ complaints and overnight Facebook beefs. Also there’s so much paperwork.”
 


Christina Fletcher

My cousin, Christina Fletcher, was born November 28, 1977 at St. Vincent Hospital in Toledo. Her mother, Charlene Fletcher, raised her as a single mother, but always made sure that family was an important part of her upbringing. “I have a very close extended family,” Christina said as we laughed about how close our family is. She was always  a person who never let her childhood define who she is: “We were definitely poor, but I didn’t know it.”

 We began to talk about her high school life to which she replied, “High school was wonderful.” She participated in several different clubs like Afro Club, Latino Club (because of her best friend), Drama Club, and French Club in which she served as president.  She played a  sport in high school by being a member of the varsity golf team. Also, throughout her high school years she was a member of Toledo Excel, where she was in Group IV.

“I had so much help and I had good friend circles,” she said as she broke down a list of a few of the people who influenced her life. “Dr Hudson, who  ran the after school program that helped me get into Excel, and Dr. Helen Cooks.” She also acknowledged Linda Meyers who is the Assistant Transformational Leader for TPS: “She helped to guide me once I became assistant principal.”

The conversation then shifted to her college years. “I wanted to be a drug prevention officer. Then my advisor dissuaded me by telling me how hard it would be to get work, so then I decided to become a teacher. I then thought to myself and said, Nope, I want to be a principal.”

Christina attended the University of Toledo on a scholarship and is a 2001 graduate. During her time at UT, she was a part of the Black Student Union, Student Government for all four years, the NAACP college chapter, and became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which she is still in. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree  in English Education for 9th-12th grades.

She went on to become a teacher at the now defunct Libbey High School. She taught there for eight years. I asked her what were some of the challenges she faced as a new teacher when she started at Libbey?

She replied, “ Establishing good parent communications and balancing work and home life responsibilities. It was also challenging establishing a good system of classroom management when students were extremely challenging. I was prepared for off-task behavior or a student who didn’t want to be in class; I was not prepared for mental health issues or some of the extreme behaviors emotionally disturbed students bring to class.”   At this point, I asked her, “Was there ever a time you almost gave up? “

“Sure,” she replied. “There were several times. On occasion I would get frustrated with having a tremendous workload and needing to stay home and grade papers or write an exam while my friends who had graduated at the same time were enjoying lucrative careers which allowed them to make major purchases and travel. At one point, I interviewed for a job in the business sector in hopes of securing a better financial future. It didn’t work out, though. I think it was divine intervention that kept me in education. Plus, I had a really good support system. My friends and family after a while began to understand the continued educational and time obligations associated with being an educator.” She went on to work at Phoenix Academy all while going back to school to get her M.A. in English Education. 

In 2015 she began another educational journey going to Bowling Green State University for another degree. In 2016, she became the interim assistant principal at Scott High School and by mid-school year was the permanent assistant principal. Then in August of 2017, Christina graduated with her third degree, which was a Specialist Degree for Administration and Supervision.

After all these accomplishments and all this time in school, I asked her what was either the easiest or hardest class she had taken. She said, “The History of Education. I’m not a history person at all. Names and dates have never stuck with me. I had a class where we studied over 100 court cases related to education.  When I walked into the final exam instead of it being theory or general content-based, I walked into the exam and there was a blank piece of paper where I was required to write down as many court cases and dates as I could remember without any notes. I bombed that exam and therefore failed the class. I had to retake the class with a different professor who focused more on understanding the significance of the cases instead of the names and dates.”

The last question I asked her as we finished up was, “What advice do you have for me going forth on this educational journey?” She replied, “ The internet is an awesome resource, but you have to give yourself a time limit on how much time you spend searching for things that could just as easily be created. Establish a good routine for yourself and find people you consider outstanding educators so that you can model your practice after them and utilize them as a resource when you have questions. Don’t teach in isolation. It is always awesome to bounce ideas off of other teachers and find out what works for someone else. Go into the classrooms of great teachers and watch them teach. This career is absolutely a calling, not a choice: you have to love it and be committed to it in order to be successful. People who come into education for the wrong reasons often find themselves miserable because this is a work of the heart. It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are if you don't love kids and love to teach them.”

 

Robert Fletcher is a graduate of Scott High School and is now a paraprofessional in Toledo Public Schools.  Mr. Fletcher has assisted with the Scott High School Marching Band, and is currently in his first year as a University of Toledo student, pursuing a Bachelor of Education degree in Music Education through the Teach Toledo program.  The profile “My cousin, the principal” was originally written for his ENG1110 Composition I course.

 

 
   
   


Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/11/18 14:10:57 -0800.


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