As a student at Rabun Gap I noticed the diversity from the day I stepped foot on the campus. The diverse community allowed me to be myself and know that we were in a judgement free zone.
Tell us what you have been up to since leaving Rabun Gap? college, job, location, family, life changes?
It's been an interesting twenty-two years since leaving The Gap!! Upon graduating with my Bachelor's degree from The University of West Georgia, I spent five years traveling the world as a flight attendant. Although I knew working in education was my passion, I decided to take a quick break prior to entering into the field. I began my career serving the Title I community in Richmond, Virginia and then worked in secondary education as a special education teacher. I began my administration career in middle school and now serve as the proud principal of Chalkley Elementary School in Chesterfield, VA which is a suburb right next to the Richmond city line. I serve in a supportive, diverse, resilient community of learners within the largest Title I school in my division.
I am blessed to be married to a supportive partner, Dervon Hayes is also in public service within our community. He serves the fire department in Company 25 here in Chesterfield County Virginia. We have two active, curious and bright children: Gabrielle "Gabby Rose" age 4, and Adrian age 2. Each child has a personality of their own and both enjoy exploring the outdoors here in Richmond, VA. As a family, we enjoy short getaways to the Virginia coast and playing games at home.
How did Rabun Gap help to prepare you or influence your future goals?
Work, Study, Worship is the motto of Rabun Gap and these words have influenced my way of being since stepping foot on campus. As a student, I worked various jobs while attending Rabun Gap and enjoyed each one!! Working in the kitchen, The Gap Grille and completing chores each gave me time to work collaboratively with others. As a student, I served in various leadership positions as well which gave me confidence to pursue my dream of becoming an educational leader. Goal setting was something which I did as a student, we were taught to set goals in class and life. I have pursued and conquered each goal set because of the lessons taught at The Gap.
People often talk about diversity at Rabun Gap. Can you speak to how Rabun Gap’s diverse community impacted your experience?
As a student at Rabun Gap I noticed the diversity from the day I stepped foot on the campus. The diverse community allowed me to be myself and know that we were in a judgement free zone. As a high school student.... Does anyone really believe there could be such a place? Well, I am here to declare that RGNS is that place and it has positively impacted my life. As an educator it leads my decision making on a daily basis to ensure that I am providing equitable opportunities for all students. I choose to serve in a diverse school community and look forward to my children attending as well to see that the world has all kinds of people.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Rabun Gap?
Well, a favorite memory of mine would most definitely be going on our intercession trip in tenth grade. As a child, I did not go camping much (or ever) and I learned SO MUCH about the outdoors during our camping trip. White water rafting was a wonderful time and I can say that I've now gone as an adult as well.
Is there a specific faculty member, coach, or dorm parent who had a particular important impact on you?
There were so many coaches, faculty and dorm parents that I know impacted me (in multiple ways). Coaches instilled a philosophy of "never giving up" and having a positive attitude towards life. Coach Amy Hood, Coach Cook (both), Coach Kohtala (both) and so many more!!! Aunt Connie, what a woman she is and with a heart of gold. Aunt Connie was someone we could talk to, we listened to and always admired. She believes and taught us to respect one another (no matter what grade someone was in ;) and also had such a giving hear.
What advice do you have for current Rabun Gap students that you wish someone told you during your time at school?
I believe that it is important to take a breath and follow the pillars. Work, study, worship and of course have fun because the days may seem long but they do go by so fast!! The work that you put in during your years of primary education are yours and it is important to always give your best effort.
What are your hopes for Rabun Gap in the next 10-20 years?
My hope for Rabun Gap is that it continues its work as a leader in education which provides opportunities for all learners. I look forward to seeing the innovative, creative infinite learners that the school continues to produce.
Anything else you would like to say?
I would like to say how fortunate I am to be an alumni of RGNS. The scholarship, education and friendships which were afforded me are cherished and never forgotten. I know that without the diverse opportunities that I had at Rabun Gap, I would not have been as confident in myself to continue to progress in my career as I have. For example, it taught me to be an infinite learner and I'm currently beginning a doctoral program in education.