My SPS Story: Angie Toomey, kindergarten teacher at Westport K-8 School
Oct. 12, 2022
"My SPS story starts back in October of 1991. I was hired as a paraprofessional in a cross-categorical classroom. I found that being in the classroom completed me. My childhood dream had always been to be a teacher.
While continuing to para, I re-enrolled in college as an evening student at Drury University, while also becoming a first-time mom. To say that the journey was easy would be the farthest thing from true, but it was more than worth it. I graduated in 2003 with an education degree with both my daughter and son, who I had just had, in attendance to watch me accept my diploma. Their excitement, along with that of my family, was worth it all and more.
While being a para, I gained a tremendous amount of experience in areas of cross-cat, self-contained SPED, behavior, early childhood and kindergarten. I believe that all these experiences gained under wonderful lead teachers molded me into the teacher I am today. I could list all the teachers that helped mold me into the educator that I am, but the list would take pages to do it justice.
I continue to be a lifelong learner and influenced by wonderful colleagues in my building, which is why I have continued working where I have for the last 30+ years. The community we have built at Westport has evolved and changed over the years, but it has been nothing short of extraordinary to see students that I had in the beginning, bring their kids back to school, or to see children that were in classes with my two kids, grown up and coming back with their siblings or children of their own.
Not only have I been with SPS for 30+ years, but I have also been at the same school the entire time -- Westport Elementary. I followed in my mother Barbara Conaway’s footsteps; she too worked as a para at Westport and later moved to Pipkin, where she retired from.
I have worked under many outstanding principals over the years, six in total; I believe. Dr. Hellen Harbor, the one who first gave me the opportunity. Followed by Mr. Nickel, Dr. Nancy Brake, Gary Tew, Kim Sublett, and my current administrator and friend, Dr. Jill Palmer.
Mr. Nickel was a mentor for both myself and my mother, and to this day, has left a lasting impression on myself and my whole family. I used to walk through the halls, and send a thumbs up to him if he was standing there, and long after he retired, I would send a thumbs up to his mural, an instinct and expression of gratefulness that I felt for all I learned from him. Working for SPS has been a family affair, having an uncle (Alvin Cummins) and aunt (Martha Weaver) retiring from the district, as well as a sister (JoAnn Braam) previously para-ing.
I am fully invested as a Westport Wildcat and have worn the navy and orange and plan to until the day I finally retire. I love my school family and community and look forward to continuing to learn and grow together as we write our story."