Elizabeth Winford, M.Ed., Region10 Educational Service Center
Team Leader for Positive Behavior Supports and Education of Homeless Youth
Former Student

As a presenter of Schoolwide Positive Behavior Supports, I assist district and campus teams in cultivating relationships with teens. One of the easiest ways I have of guiding them toward making connections with teens is to ask them to remember a teacher that had an impact on them when they were in school. Each person generates a list of thoughts that come to mind, and then we share our recollections of those educators that have touched our lives in so many ways. With tears in their eyes, many tell stories of a favorite teacher, and most all have a clearer understanding that every day is an opportunity to build connections with teens and instill in our youth a sense of trust, honor and respect.
 
At the end of the workshop activity, I always conclude by sharing a little bit about the person that had an impact on my life when I was in school, Mrs. Jan Martin MacDougall. I talk about being a shy, quiet high school teen that had many internal struggles; a blended family trying to fend off inevitable divorce, financial hardships and a definite unknown of what type of future I would have. Without even knowing it, Jan's smile and optimistic outlook provided me with hope that I didn't have within myself.


I am fond of saying that I can't recall how to determine the Latin root of the words Mrs. Martin tested us on every week, but I will never forget the feeling of empowerment she gave as she heard in my essays about the hardships I was facing.  She had such a willingness to laugh with us as a class, as a family and how she enabled us to want to work harder because she saw something in each of us that perhaps we didn't see in ourselves just yet.


I owe a great deal to Jan Martin MacDougall and will be forever grateful for the gifts she bestowed upon me and my fellow classmates. Thank you, Jan. You are a part of how I came to be who I am today, an educator.  In each of us lies great potential and with the assistance of others, that potential can be embraced and celebrated.  It is my firm belief that Jan’s most recent efforts in helping kids, Inspired STEPS, will cast the net of compassion even wider and the benefits will be astounding for those that take part in this journey."