March is a great time to pause, take a minute, and acknowledge all the good things this year has brought. For ATPE, that also means it’s time to recognize our March Volunteer of the Month! For our Volunteer of the Month recognition program, we choose one member each month who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in their commitment to ATPE and public education. We look for volunteers who exhibit outstanding leadership and tireless efforts, and we’re relying on YOU for nominees.
Meet March’s Volunteer of the Month, Linda “Susie” Prince of Marshall ATPE!
What is your job title? Where do you work? How long have you been in this role?
I am the transition specialist for Marshall ISD. This is my second year in this role, and my 38th year in special education.
How long have you been an ATPE member? Why did you choose ATPE?
I joined ATPE in 2004. I was already a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, but a colleague told me about ATPE. I joined, went to the ATPE Summit
, and was hooked. I truly believe in the organization and all that it does for the world of education.
A quick testimony from this year concerning our legal resources: I overheard a teacher discussing an issue. He had just joined one of the other teacher organizations and was disgruntled because he had an urgent matter that was time sensitive and needed some legal advice. He had contacted his organization’s legal division three days prior and still had not heard back from them. Jokingly, I told him that he should’ve joined ATPE because they’re much more responsive. He asked several questions about ATPE, and we both went on our way. The following morning, he canceled his other membership and joined ATPE. The next time he needed legal support, he followed the prompts in the legal area online, and quickly had a response and a plan*. He was so excited and thankful he bought me a cup of coffee! Experiences like this are what win people over.
What made you want to be an educator?
I knew at a very early age that I wanted to work in education. After volunteering at East Texas Treatment Center (ETTC) my junior and senior years at Kilgore High School (KHS), I decided that I needed to work with students with handicaps. By nature, I am a caregiver, and working in the field of special education allowed me to be a teacher and care for others who needed a little more help. While at ETTC, I was working in the therapy pool with a young boy who was non-ambulatory but had just had surgery to correct his condition. We worked hard Tuesday and Thursday from the beginning of the school year to Christmas break. Our last day together, he exclaimed that he had to show me something. He was able to use a paddle board and paddle across the pool. He said, “Thank you for helping me do this! You inspired me!” For me, at 17 years of age, I knew that the chills and goosebumps I felt was literally God telling me, “This is my plan for you.” That was in December of 1976. I graduated from KHS in 1977 and have devoted my entire career to helping others in any capacity I am able to!
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love what I do, which is helping students be successful in all environments. I lead by example and help out where needed—whenever or wherever. Here at Marshall, I am the transition specialist, but I also wear 10 other hats! It’s not about me but how I can help each person that walks through my office door.
Share your favorite moment as an educator.
I have never really felt like I had “just a job” to report to daily, but rather an opportunity to work with someone else’s most valued treasure—their child! To this day, I have students who I taught in 1983 acknowledge me as their “favorite teacher.” One student who stands out in my memory was a young man who had school phobia. Our first year together was long and full of trials and challenges, but we made it! I had written him a letter on his last day of school, encouraging him. About 10 years later, our paths crossed. He recognized me, came over and hugged me, and we talked for a bit. He reached into his pocket and pulled out that note I had written him so long ago. The paper was tattered, and the writing had all but disappeared. He said that didn’t matter because I made him matter, and my encouraging words had helped him more times than he could count. That young man became a fireman and—at the time we had talked—had just become chief. I stood a little taller as we parted ways.
*Eligibility, terms, exclusions, and limitations apply. The staff attorney services are provided through a program separate from the insured benefits. See atpe.org/protection for more details.
Want to learn more about this program or have questions about how you can be an ATPE volunteer? Email our volunteer program coordinator, Anna Belle Burleson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.