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Law school’s loss is East Middle School’s gain. Because Myron Montgomery decided to become a teacher and not a corporate attorney, the Missiles now have a new assistant principal who said, “I knew this was something I wanted to do for a long time....This is an industry where everyone is invested in improvement of the product, and our product is a kid that we want to be successful.”
Montgomery graduated in 1995 from Marion County High School, where he was involved in football and track while being “a real good student” – raising his eyebrows as a sign of humbleness while indicating encouragement came from his mother’s active involvement in School-Based Decision-Making Council and other educational endeavors.
His father’s job kept him away from home a lot, so he looked to his mother for support – support that set his sights on law school.
He graduated from Centre College in 1999 with the goal to enter law school within a year and practice corporate/real estate law. However, a phone call from college buddy Montas Allen changed all that.
Allen, a Shelby County High School graduate, had just signed on as a teacher at his alma mater and wanted Montgomery to join him.
“I had an English degree, and they needed a special education teacher, so I started two days before school started,” he remembered. He went on to pursue his certification and master’s at the University of Louisville.
What hooked Montgomery to teaching?
“The relationships with the kids,” he said. “I knew there would be a challenge but I also realized there was more behind simply the diagnosis,” he said, referring to the various strategies he used to meet the needs of his classes.
To meet his own needs, he enrolled in the Aspiring Administrators Academy: “I decided I wanted to be part of the educational leadership that was bringing about change and the pedagogy for our schools and students to be successful in the 21st Century.”
His move to East from SCHS came because he saw “some students from middle school to high school very prepared and a number not prepared socially as well as academically. This is a chance to apply my knowledge of high school for better transition up Rocket Lane and to eliminate the sense of ambiguity to be more successful in the long run.”
Montgomery appreciates students who are successfully involved in extracurricular activities: “You can gain a sense of pride. You are part of something. You build relationships. You develop stick-to-it-ness.”
He will work with Missiles to capture those characteristics, especially the African-American students. He said he believes his presence will serve as a positive motivator to students of color: “They may need a positive male role model. They could see me as breaking down barriers. They can realize I am someone who walks, talks and looks like them and think ‘Maybe I can do that one day.’”
Note: Other African American educators outside the classroom are Henry Robbins, assistant principal at Shelby County High School; Karen Henderson, guidance counselor at Collins High School; Artavia Acklin, instructional coach at Southside Elementary; Vivian W. Overall, human resources coordinator; and Kym Rice, on leave to Kentucky Department of Education/former principal at West Middle.
Duanne B. Puckett is public relations coordinator for Shelby County Public Schools.