Roynon Elementary welcomed a new assistant principal to its staff, Tomeika Carter. Carter, 38, stumbled upon her passion for education when she moved to Monrovia more than 10 years ago and decided to apply for a substitute teaching position. She decided to pursue a higher education and received her master’s in education and her teaching credential from the University of Phoenix in Pasadena. She taught middle school history for seven years and has now accomplished her goal of being in an administrative position for education.
What are your goals as the assistant principal for Roynon?
Well my major goal is to support teachers in any way that I can and obviously student achievement, but I want Roynon, and I see that it already is, to stay a place where kids come and they’re happy. I would really like to be a support for teachers and students, and hopefully increase achievement as well. Matt (the principal) and I really try to be a part of school culture. It’s about letting kids know that we have an interest in who they are and in their success. This is the age where you remember your teachers. You remember your principal, and so that’s really important to me. How has the transition been from working at a middle school to working at an elementary school? It’s been a lot easier. You realize that elementary, for me, is a lot easier than middle school. I also think it’s because of the support of the staff. Everyone has been really supportive including all of the teachers, Matt (the principal), the office managers. They’ve been really good with acclimating me to Roynon. I feel like the luckiest lady in the world.
How did you become interested in education?
If you ask my mother, she’ll say that I’ve been playing school since I was little, and I was always the teacher, so clearly it’s my personality. I love to learn, and I think I’m one of those people who will be a life long learner. I think teaching and education is one of the jobs, the only job actually, that I’ve had where you get instant gratification. I wanted to see myself helping people and seeing the actual results of it.
Who was your role model or mentor growing up?
I continue to have role models, so I would say my role models change as I go along. I’m almost like a parasite. When I find or meet someone I’m inspired by, I kind of try to follow the trajectory of their career and what they’ve done, and I try to model my actions after that. I would say most recently I had a superintendent in my old district who was just really amazing in the way she was able to deal with people and solve problems. She was instrumental in helping me decide that the next step for me was administration.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
I have very fond childhood memories of elementary school. Thankfully I had a natural intellect. I didn’t have to try really hard to be successful in school, and I remember getting lots of accolades from teachers and being able to grade papers and do all of those things because I had finished my work before everyone else. I have really fond memories of helping my teacher, but also having teachers really invested in me. I think that is what really drew me into education because of those fond memories.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I think the best piece of advice is two-fold. First don’t be afraid to ask questions. I preach that to students, but as an adult you have to remember that too. I’d rather ask how than make the mistake and have to go back. The second is don’t beat yourself up about a mistake. Mistakes are bound to happen. You learn from it and move forward.
Liz Ortiz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.