St. Louis American: Tell us about your current position in education, its responsibilities and challenges and how you are able to make a difference.
Kimberly Patrice Long: Currently I'm embarking on my fourth year as school principal at Nottingham Community Access and Job Training (CAJT) High School. Nottingham CAJT High School is a school-to-work program for students with developmental delays. Despite the many challenges they encounter, they come to school ready to learn and ready to be the best person they can be.
As of 2016, we are a National School of Character and we take that title and intention serious. Our students know how important it is to be kind to their family, friends, and neighbors. My students understand that you make the most impact by the way you act, and as a school family we celebrate positive interactions.
Last year, our school made gains in the following areas: attendance, student management, academics through the use of technology, onsite work experience, and over 90 percent of our graduating class are registered with Vocational Rehabilitation for post-secondary placement.
We were also recognized nationally and received two 2019 Promising Practice Awards in Character Education in a Quest for Green Schools and Celebrating the Limitations and Differences of All by Character.org. Our school family, now more than ever, inspires to continue the tradition of practicing good character and spreading these models worldwide.
St. Louis American: Although educators often work alone, education is a team sport. Tell us about your current team, how you fit into it, and who helps to support your work.
Kimberly Patrice Long: I couldn't have asked for a better group of students, staff, parents, and community partners to work with. Even though an educator’s work is challenging and you sometimes feel defeated, I can’t think of anything else that would satisfy my soul as a career.
St. Louis American: Tell us about any previous positions you have held, in education or any other field, that contributed to your development as an educator and helped prepare you for your current role.
Kimberly Patrice Long: My initial educator’s training began at Compton Drew Middle School where I was a Special Education teacher for five years. In 2012, I had the opportunity of being an Academic Instructional coach at Ashland Elementary School. Nottingham CAJT High School is my forever school home, and next was Ashland Elementary School as an Academic Coach. I’ve had the opportunity to work as the Reading specialist, Special Education Department head/Vocational Adjustment counselor.
St. Louis American: Tell us about your own educational journey as a student.
Kimberly Patrice Long: The journey as an educator was far from easy. Drugs were the center of my world as a child, and I truly felt they destroyed my family.
I found myself the single mom of a baby girl at the age of 18 and homeless. But when I saw her face, I knew we were going to be ok. I wanted the best for my daughter and decided to embrace the challenges of parenting, working, and attending school. There is nothing I wouldn’t have done to keep her needs met and ensure her safety. My second daughter was born five years later. I’m proud to call Jazilyn and Jada Priestly my angels and the reason I’ve become who I am.
The focus was on for me to make gains on my commitment to my girls. I graduated from Soldan High School, received a Bachelor’s of Science from Harris Stowe State College, a Master’s in Education from Fontbonne University, and a Master’s in School Administration from Lindenwood University.
Jazilyn is now a mom herself to my beautiful granddaughter Jayce, who I lovingly call “Honey Bun.”
St. Louis American: Tell us about any relevant personal information you would like to share with the community – your family, friends, home church, passions.
Kimberly Patrice Long: Coming from a family of educators made me proud. A big part of my childhood consisted of weekends with my aunts grading papers, cutting out letters for bulletin boards, and many summers attending summer school as their helpers. Seeing the love and concern that was put into students achieving learning targets and developing emotionally first hand was a definite highlight of many days. I said, “Teaching is easy. I can do this!”
This work wasn’t easy at all. The work was tense, and you must want children to succeed no matter what. But you do reap the benefits in witnessing their success and them feeling good about themselves day after day. I live for rewards like that.
St. Louis American: Feel free to add anything else you would like to share with the community about education or yourself.
Kimberly Patrice Long: In the Spring I was named St. Louis Public Schools 2019 Secondary Principal of the Year. Even though I was proud, it was totally unexpected because it’s second nature for me to come to work and consistently put students first. I do appreciate working for a school district (Saint Louis Public Schools) that recognizes and celebrate staff and students for their dedication and efforts in education.