A Life Well Spent
As I reflect on a life well spent, I somehow find myself in my 30th year as an educator. In 1985, I graduated from Lynchburg-Clay High School as a clueless and broken 18 year old. Broken, because I had devoted my time, heart and love into the sport of basketball and during tournament play my senior year I destroyed my ACL. Everything I had worked for and loved, including basketball scholarships shattered before me. Thirty four years ago the recovery from an ACL reconstruction was at least eight months and with no promise of a complete recovery. July of that summer, I had the surgery and chose to commute to Wilmington College my freshmen year in order to recover at home. My parents, in the midst of their second divorce, made home life quite a challenge. I believe it is also important to mention, that money was not a commodity that my family possessed and I was unable to work. To say life was difficult would be an understatement. Being the first person in my family to attend college, support was lacking. My hometown of Lynchburg, Ohio is part of Appalachian America.
I recovered quickly from my surgery and found myself a second chance at basketball at The College of Mount Saint Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio, my sophomore year. Between academic and athletic scholarships, my college tuition was nearly completely covered. My junior and senior years I became a resident assistant in the dorms and gave up basketball (my knee never fully recovered). I participated in many school activities, clubs, groups, etc. I was involved in all facets of college life and loved it. I maintained a 3.85 GPA and held a work study and outside employment as well. I graduated from The College of Mount Saint Joseph in 1989 with a bachelor’s of arts. I was certified to teach health and physical education grades K-12.
I immediately received a job offer from Northwest Local School District in Cincinnati, Ohio. I accepted a position as a middle school teacher at Pleasant Run Middle School and left my rural hometown for good. I spent 25 years at Pleasant Run as a 6th through 8th grade health and physical education teacher. Pleasant Run was a suburban school district which turned into more of an urban environment with each passing year. I enjoyed the classroom but yearned to be in a position of leadership. After 15 years and two children of my own, I chose to go back to school to pursue my master’s in educational administration. I received a scholarship from the University of Cincinnati and finished a two year program in a year and a half with a 4.0, while continuing to teach.
After a difficult divorce, I chose to move back to my hometown of Lynchburg to have the love and support of my family for my son and daughter and myself. At that time I was a single parent and my children were not old enough for me to pursue an administration position which would require more night hours. I waited patiently and continued to teach and raise my kids. Finally, in 2014 I felt it was the right time to pursue administration. After numerous interviews in various districts, I was offered a position at Fairfield Local in Highland County. For the past five years I have been an assistant principal and middle school and high school athletic director at Fairfield.
I can honestly say that my career in education has given me the opportunity to see diversity from many angles. In Cincinnati, I experienced racial diversity and poverty. In rural America I experience little racial diversity, but more socio-economic diversity. I also have a bi-racial son who spent the first half of his life in Cincinnati and his teen years through the present in rural Lynchburg. I have learned that it is possible to make a difference in all kids’ lives, regardless of race, gender, socio-economics, geographical location, etc. Kids are kids and need positive role models desperately. At the end of each day, I am fulfilled with the satisfaction of knowing I have spent 30 years making a difference with children from all walks of life. I am able to relate to children with difficult backgrounds because my younger years were challenging and dysfunctional in many aspects.
Thirty years have gone very quickly in a profession I am proud to have been a part of. I can honestly say it has been thirty years well spent making a difference in so many children’s lives.
Denise is a Lynchburg, Ohio native (Highland County) having graduated from Lynchburg-Clay High School in 1985. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from The College of Mount Saint Joseph and a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati. Denise has since returned home to Highland County, where she works as an Assistant Principal and athletic director within the Fairfield Local School District.
Denise Educational History:
1985 - HS Graduate, Lynchburg-Clay Local School District
1989 - BA in education (health & physical education), The College of Mount Saint Joseph
2007 - MA in educational administration, University of Cincinnati