"Our (school) system is amazing to work for but this building is wonderful," said Gregory. "I'm very honored and humbled by this honor."
As a child growing up, Gregory recalls in her application that she loved to play school. It was a no-brainer when she graduated high school and entered Faulkner University that she would go into education. Unexpectedly Gregory's field experience was a nightmare. After taking general education classes and courses in education theory and history, Gregory did an about-face and sat for an aptitude test that indicated she would be slightly happier in a career in business administration. Gregory went with it and changed her major to accounting and spent the next 15 years of her life as an accountant. However, education was always in the background, as Gregory would take every opportunity to learn, research and teach anyone who would listen.
Gregory said that she loved accounting but realized it wasn't people-oriented enough for her. After spending a short period of time as a stay-at-home mom, Gregory entered what she calls the volunteer work force. She became involved in the community, and as a by-product, the Dyersburg City Schools. She began substituting and was approached by administration to see what her long-term plans were. Gregory noted they were surprised when they discovered she did not have a teaching degree, commenting that she was a natural.
After being encouraged by administrators in the city school system and praying about it, Gregory decided to take it one step at a time and began pursuing a master's degree in education. She admits she was apprehensive at first since she had not been in the classroom herself in 20 years but after taking her first educators exam, which encompassed general knowledge for certification up to the eighth grade, and passing it, she never looked back.
"I think I'm a late bloomer," said Gregory with a laugh. "I think I finally come to fruition with what God's plan was for me."
Gregory does not discount her career in accounting as it provided wonderful life experience and it fostered the detail-oriented aspect of her personality, which she uses in the classroom. She says that the younger teachers have great ideas and she tries to take a few pages out of their book to work a little smarter, because at 51 you just don't have the same energy as when you're 22, but she has the life experience that she can share with them.
Gregory's first graduate course was a technology-in-education course. After the initial shock of being in a classroom on a subject she knew very little to nothing about, Gregory grew to love the subject and now instructs DIS faculty on how to maximize their effectiveness in the classroom.
"We have such amazing technology and it allows for immediate engagement of the students," said Gregory. "Technology is easy for them; it has opened a new way for kids to learn."
Gregory says that as she continues to teach she hopes her students know that she loves them, that she fights for them and that she believes in them. She writes in her Teacher of the Year application that she truly loves and respects her students from the first day of school and once they are convinced of that, they are ready to accept what she has to offer as a teacher.
She hopes her students take one thing away from her classroom:
"You're never too young to learn common courtesy and to be respectful of one another."