I graduated from Timken High School in 1981, then from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1986. Having lived all my life until then in the northeast quadrant of Canton, it is not surprising that is where I decided to settle, and have been since. I attended Belle Stone Elementary and Crenshaw Jr. High schools. Crenshaw was a new building then.
If described as a nerd I accept the compliment, stereotypes and all. I played the tuba in the bands of all three schools and earned the “Two Left Feet” award for the section I led on the field representing the Trojan blue and gold. I actually still have it. And I played the part of Hugo Peabody in the 1981 Timken High School production of Bye Bye Birdie.
Those opportunities and the excellent Canton City Schools education that they were part of, took this shy nerd from Canton’s NE end places I never thought I would go and into the lives of people I never thought I would meet.
During my 17 years as a reporter for the now defunct Gay People’s Chronicle, which at its nadir was one of the top five LGBTQ publications in the nation, I was present for oral arguments of two U.S. Supreme Court cases and had White House credentials. I was one of only two LGBTQ reporters to get an interview with Senator Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign, and the only one to have ever interviewed a four star general about the former Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. My work was cited by the New York Times, Public Radio, and is a chapter in a best-selling book about George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove.
I have also been on the professional staff of a U.S. Senate campaign and met two sitting U.S. presidents; Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. My time as a classroom teacher, though relatively brief, taught me first hand the importance of teachers and educational leaders in the shaping of lives, and ensuring that all graduates have the best opportunities for success at life, no matter how each defines success.
I have also been an education policy geek since college and an advocate for public education, so in 2009, after not being appointed to an open seat on the Canton City School Board, I decided to run and was elected.
Serving on the Canton City School Board has been one of the greatest honors and privileges of my life. While no single board member has a magic wand, I am grateful for opportunities to make it possible for Canton City Schools students in all four quadrants of the city to get the education that allows them to go places and live lives bigger and more amazing than they ever imagined.