If I had to choose one word...

If I had to chose one word or phrase to describe myself it would be “lifelong learner." Some of  this learning is forced on me (think about your last smartphone upgrade) but most of it is for pleasure. In today’s ever-changing world, I’ve found that being a “lifelong learner” is less of an option and more of an imperative. Fortunately, I enjoy learning. There is intrinsic pleasure in learning a new skill - whether it’s mastering a new software program or putting a piece of IKEA furniture together. My family and I love the water so a few years ago I spent a week in “boat” camp learning the difference between starboard and port and how to read water buoys and markers. Sometimes, as a point of pride, I pull out my boaters license when asked for ID.  

While most of my professional learning takes place in classrooms (virtual or online) the majority of my personal learning is through books- the old fashioned kind with pages you can feel and spines that crinkle when opened wide. I am truly transported to the  time and place when I read a good book. Stories from around the world have helped me gain a better perspective and understanding of different cultures and a greater empathy and compassion for those who live right next door. (see: My Recommendations for list of great novels, nonfiction, children’s books and young adult literature).     

Learning is not a one-way street. Sharing my “talents” as a volunteer in numerous capacities has taught me lifelong lessons. For example, as a girl scout leader I learned how to tie a bowline knot which, years later, impressed my boating instructor. And while I taught adults how to read during their stay at a halfway house, they taught me how to play Craps (useful for my forays to Atlantic City) and how to cook real southern grits (tip: soak overnight and stir, stir, stir). I have impressed upon my own two daughters the importance of civil service and now, as adults, they each have found ways to give back and share the kindness.  

Being a “lifelong learner” not only helps me keep current and proactive professionally, but enables me to be a better person, citizen, educator, and humanitarian.