I was born in Ohio and grew up in the small (but don’t let them hear you say that) city of North Canton–former home of the Hoover Company. Yes, that’s as in vacuum cleaners. I was surprised to find out that “hoover” is a verb in England–it’s what you do to your carpets. Graduated from Hoover High School and had a vague, generalized desire to go to college, made more urgent by a year of working at McDonald’s in order to get the money to attend.
After a year of watching friends leave for THE Ohio State University (where I intended to join them) and then drop out of school for various reasons, I had managed to save enough money for one quarter at OSU. Being a practical person at heart, I opted for Kent State University, which had a branch near my parents. Within the first year, I changed my major from pre-theatre (no, it was not really my first choice–a counselor suggested it after hearing about the courses I wanted to take my first semester) to history. At that point my father, who is a very smart man, said, “That’s nice, but what are you going to do with it?” I said, “I think I’ll teach.” To which he replied, “That’s good. But you should do something practical for a minor, like business or computers.” Oh, the irony of it all. Graduated with two Bachelors degrees, in History and Education.
In another twist of fate, the nation later bemoaned a teacher shortage. In 1986, there were thirteen of us who did student teaching together. Only two ever found jobs as teachers. My brother-in-law faced the same glut two years later. Did not get hired my first year out, so I opted for a Teaching Assistantship in History at the University of Akron.
Life after college
The next year I found a job and taught for a year in one of the ten smallest school districts in Ohio (graduating class: 29). Got laid off (technical term I had to learn: RIF, Reduction in Force due to loss of student population) after my first year and was lucky to get hired at a Catholic school in Cleveland, where I stayed for ten years. In the meantime, got married and divorced. Took up distance bicycling, learned to scuba dive and ride a Harley. Stood on the castle walls in Edinburgh and the shattered remains of a cathedral in Nicaragua.
Then it was time for a new adventure. I was still teaching at St. Joseph Academy in the winter of 1998 when I received a flyer in the mail from the National Endowment for the Humanities promoting their Summer Programs for Teachers. The one that most attracted my attention was called ‘Communism in American Life,’ focusing on the impact of the movement and subsequent Red Scares during the twentieth century. Admission was competitive and I was thrilled to get in to the seminar. So I rode in my seventh Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure and then hopped in my car to be in Atlanta at Emory University the day after it ended. After the seminar at Emory, I returned to Cleveland for one more school year. I wanted to move to Atlanta and was fortunate to find a teaching job at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. I spent three great years there before relocating to South Florida. My first full-time position since moving was as webmaster and e-communications director for Lois Frankel’s campaign for mayor of West Palm Beach.
I relocated back to Ohio in September of 2003. I worked as a software and hardware trainer for a technology sales company in Cleveland then as a marketing assistant for a hospitality firm. I returned to the classroom in 2006 as a History instructor at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills. In 2008, I became the Director of Instructional Technology and my focus shifted to working with teachers to integrate technology into their classes. Two years later, I became IT director and enjoyed that role until August, 2015.