This past year has been quite the journey. Building 540WMain and getting us to our one year anniversary has truly been a magical and life changing journey. I am so proud to finally have it fine tuned to the point where everything that I’ve envisioned makes sense in reality as much as it has made sense in my head.
It is for these reasons that I am happy to announce my decision to make this my last academic school year as an educator in public schools and direct my entire professional career to growing and building 540WMain Community Learning Academy.
I am happy to announce my decision to direct my entire professional career to growing and building 540WMain Community Learning Academy
This decision is one that has pretty much materialized in a completely natural, organic, and free flowing way. My career as a teacher has been non-traditional to say the least. I got my teaching certification as a TNTP Teaching Fellow in 2011 when I relocated from my home in Churchville, NY to Nashville, TN. This eventually led to the completion of my second Masters Degree from Middle Tennessee State University. While living in Nashville I worked as an Elementary Substitute Teacher, Assistant Teacher, Behavior Specialist, & finally a Lead Special Education Teacher. It was a whirlwind time in my life which was cut short when I sustained an on the job accident with a student that had a traumatic brain injury (STBI). This accident left me temporarily disabled and bed ridden in Nashville for nearly eight months.
During this time, I started my first blog Living with Fibromyalgia to chronicle this very difficult time in my life. While bedridden, I started my freelance writing career, spent time as an distance education instructor, and started theglutenfreechefblog.com. I started the gluten free chef blog with the thought that I would never be a classroom teacher again. The accident sent my body into the worst flare up of symptoms that I’ve (so far) ever experienced and had me questioning my entire will to exist. Despite all of this, I was determined to make some type of living and dove head first into building the gluten free chef blog and brand, writing my first book of poetry and cookbook, freelance writing, and baking from home whenever I had the strength to do so. As I look back on all these experiences; I was a teacher. I was educating; just not in the traditional way.
In 2013 I made the difficult decision to move back to Rochester. During this time I continued to teach (very part-time) as an online educator, blogger, and eventually co-founded The Gluten Free Chef Bakery in April 2014. During this time teaching took a major backseat in my life (as did my blog) and I found myself not completely fulfilled. Naturally, the gluten free chef bakery came to a fairly swift end and I spent most of 2015 re calibrating and figuring out my next move as an entrepreneur. In the meantime, I returned to the classroom first as a Teaching Assistant and then as a Long Term Special Education Teacher in the East Irondequoit Central School district.
Every single last one of these experiences culminated to me connecting with the Susan B. Anthony District and birthing what is now 540WMain Community Learning Academy in June 2016. In May 2016 I decided to leave full-time teaching and substitute teach only in which I’ve been doing until now.
Teaching is my life
As I read this very brief synopsis of the last six years I can’t help but notice a variety of themes. The main themes I notice are non-conformity, perseverance, and lifelong learning.
What I love most about 540WMain is that it is non-traditional organization in every sense of the word. A jack of all trades, a swiss army knife of resources ran by a non-traditional guy. A person that has never taken no for an answer and someone who wills a way through any situation. My life experiences have made me extremely flexible, adaptable, and able to not conform in order to survive.
Leading 540WMain on a shoestring (sometimes non-existent) budget while living with a sometimes debilitating chronic invisible illness has taken a level of perseverance that has me questioning more often than not, if I can continue. Still after all these years, I am living, breathing, creating, and functioning in a positive way.
Teachers are life-long learners. My unquenchable thirst for knowledge, truth, and understanding is the fuel that keeps my passion burning and it is my ability to teach that has permeated our success. Teaching has been the foundation of my professional career and will remain the foundation of 540WMain Community Learning Academy.
I could go on and on but I won’t. I am so happy to finally be able to invest my time, energy, and capacity to continuing the amazing work that we’ve started over the last year. The seeds are only beginning to sprout and I look forward to continuing to be the change I wish to see in the community as well as in the world. Thank you so much for your support no matter how big or small. My list of contributors, supporters, cheerleaders, and assistants is just too extensive to list but know that no matter how you have helped along the way; your help has not gone unappreciated. I look forward to growing together in the days, weeks, months, and years to follow.
Founder & Executive Director