And Now, We Wait. / / #LASTOY Final Interviews

First off, allow me to congratulate the other eight finalists for the 2019 Louisiana Teacher of the Year program. Spending time with all of the other finalists and the staff from Dream Teachers and Louisiana Department of Education was refreshing and inspiring. The stories and expertise that each finalist brings to the table is so invaluable to our students in our state. It’s my hope that we can work together somehow in the near future and figure out how we can leave a positive mark on the state.

While in Baton Rouge, we had a good amount of fellowship time prior to our big interviews. The Old State Capitol is such a cultural gem for us in Louisiana. Did you know that it’s haunted? Check it out if you ever get the chance to see it!

Joni Lacey and Kimberly Eckert made the process of interviewing so much easier emotionally! The insights that they shared with us allowed my nerves to calm, and built a sense of confidence in me that was definitely reassuring. I think we were all really nervous, and the inevitable imposter syndrome had done more than just appear, it had moved it with the intention to stay for the long haul.

I practiced my speech so many times the night before, I began to stress myself out. My speech was filled with statistics and platform-based verbiage, but what I neglected to maintain focus on was the main reason why I even made it to the finalist level to begin with – my students.

My students are the heart of what I do.

Our journey together tells a story that embodies everything I would ever want to say and do as Louisiana State Teacher of the Year. Being an expert on their academic and emotional needs is something I can speak truthfully to and from the heart. Everything after that just adds detail to the adventure that I get to live with my kids. I decided to fold the paper that my speech was printed on, turn my bedside light off, and get some rest knowing that my love for what I do and my students would somehow guide my words the following morning.

Despite the outcome, I am so happy that I got to share this adventure with my students and as well as our story with the interview panel. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank each panelist for their time to listen and their interest in my work and the work of the other finalists. Each of you made us feel like rock stars!

My takeaways from the interview process are these: don’t let stress eat away at amazing life experiences, never waste an opportunity to show someone your passion, and when in doubt, lead with passion and you’ll never be disappointed in yourself.

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