Heather Scott

Candidate for Wake County Board of Education - District 1

There’s More Than Corn In Indiana

I was born in Portage, Indiana where I graduated from high school in 1993. A National Honor Society Member, I enjoyed participating in many different activities including speech team, marching band, jazz band, orchestra, concert band, theatrical productions, and intramural sports. I attended Indiana University-Bloomington where I majored in Music Education and Saxophone. While at Indiana University, I enjoyed being active in the Mu Phi Epsilon music fraternity, Marching Hundred, jazz band, concert band and intramural sports. I also greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet fellow students from all over the world. I graduated Indiana Unversity inspired to make a difference in the lives of my students as a music teacher.

A Teacher Is Born

After graduating from Indiana University, I accepted a teaching position in Greensburg Community Schools as an instrumental and general music teacher. I taught beginning band, middle school band, middle school jazz band, and general music. Greensburg is a small, rural community about one hour southeast of Indianapolis, and I had students who lived in affluent neighborhoods as well as students who lived in high-poverty neighborhoods. Some of my students were from families where both parents had graduate degrees, while some were from families where no one had yet graduated from high school. Growing up rather sheltered, it was my first time working closely with impoverished and, in some cases, neglected children. I will never forget a student who had been known as “passive-resistant” to participate in school at all. No one had graduated high school in his family. Using differentiated instruction to attempt to reach him in my general music classroom, one day he raised his hand to answer a question. I knew that was likely the first time he had ever offered an answer in a class. It changed my life forever, because I was committed to making every effort to reach all students.

 

After two years teaching in Greensburg, I had the opportunity to join a fantastic music program in San Diego County that was starting over after several years hiatus. The San Dieguito Unified High School District had extremely wealthy families, from the shores of the ocean to modest housing where many families had recently migrated to the United States. I enjoyed teaching band and choir at two middle schools and a high school - but it was also eye-opening to the extreme budget restrictions. Traveling between three schools each day, finding creative ways to work around limited fundraising opportunities - all while living as a rent-burdened teacher with a long commute proved to be a challenge. Ultimately, I realized I missed my family and returned to Indiana.

 

Back in Indiana, I accepted a position as an optician in an regional chain eyeglass store - thinking I would take some time to work outside of education before settling down again in a teaching position. I was quickly promoted to store manager at a different location and eventually promoted to a regional sales position at the corporate level. As proud as I was of my successes, something was missing: teaching. After two years in the optical industry, I decided to return to teaching and applied for a music teacher position at Bishop Noll Institute - a private 7-12 Catholic school in Hammond, Indiana.

From Indiana to North Carolina

Bishop Noll Institute was unique in that the principal made it clear he wanted to see the then-defunct music program thrive once again. The school was a lengthy commute for me, nestled within an industrial/urban setting. Student enrollment was a struggle. I wasn’t just a music teacher - I was also expected to teach health, speech, and freshman seminar. I also waited tables on the weekends to make ends meet. The student population was ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. The music program grew from 12 choir students to over 50 students my last year. We grew from six dedicated band members to having enough students to march in a 4th of July parade. After four wonderful years with an amazing team and principal, I left Bishop Noll Institute beacuse I fell in love with my now-husband, got married, and moved to join him where he had lived for years: North Carolina.

 

I interviewed with a brand-new charter school in Raleigh before moving out, and they hired me! I honestly didn’t know much about charter schools from personal experience, but I was a firm believer in school choice after having taught at public and parochial schools. Charter schools - in 2008 - were new to North Carolina, heavily regulated/monitored, and could not be managed by a for-profit management corporation. I loved my teaching position at Endeavor Charter School, despite the challenges of teaching music “on a cart” in their temporary building, but I resigned several months after my first child was born. I had hoped to be a working mother and continue in my career, but we struggled to find consistent childcare. I felt quite broken-hearted when I resigned my position and became a stay-at-home parent. I was certainly thankful we could financially support a family with just one full-time working parent, but my heart was missing something again: teaching. I quickly found (very)part-time work teaching Kindermusik and Pre-K music, along with private lessons, but it wasn’t quite the same as the classroom experience.

It’s a Family Affair

I now have two amazing children who are thriving within WCPSS at a magnet school with a fine arts/GT emphasis near downtown Raleigh. I have enjoyed substitute teaching in various schools throughout Wake County, both private and public. Even though my oldest child is doing well, he also has unique needs addressed with a 504 plan to assure equal access to educational opportunities. The process for applying for individualized instruction can be extraordinarily challenging. As parents, we are grateful to have developed friendships with fellow parents whose children also have unique educational needs. As community members, we have learned that many parents don’t feel there is a place for their child in the WCPSS. I want to change that. As a mother, I strive to continue the fight I knew needed conquering early in my career: equal access to a high-quality education for all.

Fun at DPAC