I was now an English teacher and a Reading Specialist, as I had earned my M.S. in 1982. So I taught the then-popular (to principals, not students) "remedial reading" as well as different levels of English, College Study Skills, and even Athletic P.E. at times.
This was the perfect next school for me, as it afforded me mentorship and great opportunities to grow in professional development, technology, and coaching. Walt Westrum was the superintendent there my entire ten years, and he greatly empowered me in all these areas, often coming up with the ideas himself and inviting me to take part.
I was sent by Walt (and funded by the State of Illinois) to Tucson, AZ, to pick up their "Catch Up, Keep Up" reading program for high schools and to become the state facilitator of the project. With Walt's urging, I began to be a "presenter" at local, county, and then state meetings of teachers in reading strategies and later in using technology to teach writing. It was all "stand and deliver" in those days, and LCD projectors were not yet invented. You might see an occasional high-tech teacher using an "overhead projector." Wow. Of course, the more you do this kind of thing, the more you get "known" and invited to do more.
At Hall, I put hands on my first computer (word processor, then) and it was "love at first touch." Walt was a genius at getting this stuff for our school, either free or for very little money. We had two labs for student use before I knew it, and one was set up right next to me! Soon, all of my English students were doing all of their writing on these machines, and saving it on those big old floppy disks--remember them? Our experimentation and research in this area put us at the cutting edge of English education in Illinois at that time. Thanks to Walt, I also had my very own Commodore 64 at home! And a dot-matrix printer!
This was the dawn of Title IX, and I became the school's varsity softball coach, a position I held for all ten years there. My players, my assistants, and I built that program into the best girls' sports program at that school and one of the most-respected in the area. It kind of became my "mission" to make girls sports more equal with boys, so I relentlessly pursued that with public relations and motivation for winning. The Lady Devils (or She-Devils, as I called them) were in the paper, on the local radio, and even on cable TV! I loved softball and I loved coaching these young athletes, who were so, so dedicated. I even continued it right through two pregnancies. The athletic director, Frank Colmone, finally said that they were worried about my coaching on the bases "in my condition." He asked me to take on a second assistant, which I happily did, a former player who was attending the local community college. Perhaps it's no accident that both of my daughters were great high school athletes themselves, years later in Heidelberg, Germany. But that's the next part of the story . . . .
(This photo from a 1984 newspaper shows us in gale-force winds and me six months preganant!)