I tease I became a TAJE officer after being threatened with an ice cream cone on the Riverwalk. But in reality, when Susan Duncan approached me when I was hanging out with my students after a day full of Fall Fiesta activities, her point-blank statement of “you will run for an office” simply solidified what was already rattling around in my head.
There was never one big reason to join TAJE leadership. Just lots of little ones. First, my kids. I wanted to create more opportunities for my students, and as a result, students throughout the state. There was the need to connect with my fellow teachers and build relationships to support what I was attempting to do in my classroom. By nature, teachers are lifelong learners, so I needed to delve into the process and learn how the organization worked. It’s a total cliche, but experience is the best teacher. I wanted to then use the experience to make myself a better teacher. And it sounds trivial to admit, but I also felt the pressure to impress my district administration (BTW, it didn’t work).
But when it came right down to it, I knew I had more to give.
So I put my name on the ballot for regional rep.
And I lost.
That’s when it clicked, and I became an active member of TAJE.
I developed and taught my first convention sessions. I judged write-offs. I attended the luncheon and made friends. I started taking notes during the business meetings. I volunteered for the JEA/NSPA San Antonio local committee despite living 300 miles away. And I achieved everything I set out to do. I was able to share opportunities with my students. I built supportive relationships with dear friends. I learned about the dedication and decision-making process of the TAJE servant leaders. I felt pride in being a part of this organization. I was a stronger educator.
So I tossed my name in again, this time for board secretary.
And I won.
I am now in my fifth year on the TAJE Executive Board. Two years as board secretary. Two as president-elect. And this year as board president.
Wanting to be the head honcho was never my motivation. It actually scared me and nearly kept me from tossing my name in. At this point in my career, I should be past those new-kid-on-the-block insecurities, but in my head leader has always equaled expert. And if you know me, I make my screw-ups a spectator sport. Expert? Me? No. But it did take quieting those insecurities to grasp that leadership is not about skins on the wall or top-tier programs. Leadership is service. Leadership is transparency. Leadership is innovation. Leadership is patience. I’m certainly none of the above, but I want to be.
And even now, I know I have still more to give. I bring to my leadership responsibilities passion, tenacity, energy and an ability to laugh at myself. For an organization like this to be able to carry out its mission, TAJE needs a variety of qualities in its leaders. It needs the voices of its members. It needs members who are willing to put themselves out there in service of others. If you feel you have something more to give, I encourage you to run for regional rep this winter, and I look forward to serving along with you.
However, if you want to get involved, it doesn’t take an election. We welcome all those willing to lift up journalism educators and students. Texas journalism programs need support, recognition, peers, mentors, advocates and cheerleaders.
It needs you.