I first met Teri Pinney because of our mutual interest, that of being an author. But after a single conversation I learned she is so much more…Teri is a true Renaissance Woman.  In addition to her novel The Missing Heart – Chronicles of an Educator, she has published dozens of articles on education policies and advocacy.  She is a Certified Grant Writer and serves as Chairperson for the QAR Accreditation Teams of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

I could go on and on, telling how Teri Pinney spent a good part of her life working as a high school teacher and then as assistant principal, or I could talk about her community involvement…but the thing that impresses me most about this outstanding woman is the honesty with which she cares about others.

We all talk a good game, we contribute to worthy causes, attend charity functions – party all evening and then go home feeling we have done our part. Teri doesn’t stop there…she works behind the scenes, to make sure these things happen. She’s an active Board Member of CASTLE, the organization that works to improve family life and prevent child abuse, and an active Board Member of the Samaritan Center for Boys. Teri doesn’t just care about what happens to children, we all do that…the difference is that she does something to improve their lives! She gives of her time, her energy and her wisdom. She inspires me to step up and do more, and hopefully she will inspire many others to do the same.

Teri is currently collecting petitions so she can run in this year’s School Board Election. “Why,” I asked, knowing that she was already contributing to so many other worthwhile causes. Her answer was one we all need to think about… “Because I want to bring back the joy of learning and the passion of teaching,” she said. Her answer caused me to stop and think about the necessity of that statement. It’s true, the Saint Lucie School System loses good, maybe even great, teachers simply because they are underappreciated and overworked. The Children are pushed to achieve FCAT scores, even to the point of sacrificing true education. Is it not just as important that we teach our children the principles of mutual respect and fair play? Not every child can learn at the same pace, so are we simply weeding out the ones who might need a bit of extra help…those that are perhaps the most deserving of special assistance?  Without the desire to learn, these children will likely drop out of school and fall victim to the circumstances of a life without hope or growth.

I for one want to see Teri Pinney on the election ballot, because I think that voting for someone as principled as this woman is like voting for our St. Lucie County kids to succeed. Tomorrow the Teri Pinney story continues…and you’ll hear her comment about how we sometimes force kids to fail.