My grandmother raised me to love education, and it stuck. Ifound the perfect job in the perfect place, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Sandra was born in Dallas and moved to a small rural Texas town for her first ten years. As she describes it: "We were really poor but didn't know it." She was raised by her grandmother who had little formal education but committed herself to making sure Sandra got her fair share. When Sandra moved to Dallas at the age of ten, she was part of the Desegregation Act of 1972 and for the first time in her life, she joined an integrated school. She took to the books, fell in love with Samuell High School in Dallas, and then became the first member of her family to attend college where she graduated from East Texas State University. Sandra's husband Clyde is an educator and principal of Prime Prep Academy Middle School. Clyde will join Sandra on the cruise.
Sandra enjoyed her time in high school so much that she went back to her alma mater, and this time she stayed for more than thirty years. She had a degree in English and in Special Education and became the Special Ed teacher for the school. Says Sandra: "I woke up every day wanting to go to work. I loved the kids. I was part teacher, part Mom, part friend, and part task master. I never treated the kids as if they had any disability, and my goal was always to have them gain the confidence to be active and productive in the community."
After many years as the Special Ed instructor, Sandra's principal asked her to take on a new role as head of the AVID Program, Advancement Via Individual Determination. The goal was to do everything possible to have kids, especially those who had no family members who graduated college, attend college. The program was a remarkable success, and in the first year, alone, Sandra helped 52 graduating seniors get into college. The high school created a "Wall of Fame" with pictures of all the kids and began turning the school around. Over the years, Sandra has been instrumental in helping a failing school become one of the most successful in the state, and she has motivated many hundreds of kids to attend and graduate college. Sandra retired several years ago, but is still active with Samuell High School. She continues to give presentations, mentor kids, and teach them the value of life-long education.