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What Vicki Neal and her family know is that when life starts to weigh heavy on you, you should change something.
While some people sit around with the weight of complacency pulling them down, Vicki and her family say yes to adventure and make change a priority.
These changes have led Vicki to live in places like Canada, Hawaii, Southern California, Washington, New York, Taiwan and now finally Northern California.
Vicki recalls one move in particular which went something like this:
“My husband was seriously looking at a map and just pointed and said, ‘If we ever move to Washington, I really think we should move here.’ And I’m just like, ‘Okay, sounds good,’” she laughed.
For Vicki, moving for better opportunities and change is not a new phenomena. In fact, Vicki remembers sometimes moving twice a year as a child to accommodate her father’s growing business endeavors.
“Right when personal computers started to take off, my dad started a retail company specialized in computer parts and it did really very well,” Vicki said.
With this entrepreneurial spirit in her heart and a partner with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business, Vicki even went on to manage her own tutoring company in Southern California for some time.
“Even with the tutoring company, I was still always teaching English as a Second Language in some way,” Vicki said. “Ever since I graduated college really – I continuously taught English whether it was my main source of income or not.”
In fact, Vicki is sure she wanted to be a teacher ever since the age of three.
“When all my brothers and all my friends were playing house and GI Joes and transformers, I would gather up all of my stuffed animals and dolls, and I would create a classroom on the floor,” Vicki remembers. “I would seriously give them work to do…and I would teach them…and I would grade their papers.”
Fortunately for Highlands, Vicki has moved on to teaching real people now instead of stuffed animals and has been teaching for 18 years in various capacities.
“I feel like the most important thing about teaching is showing that you care about your students and making each student feel special,” Vicki said. “And I have to be honest with you, after so many years teaching elsewhere, I feel like I have the dream job right now – I really do.”
She attributes a lot of this to the population in which Highlands serves.
“Highlands’ students are eager to learn. I have the lucky privilege of teaching both populations we serve: high school completion and ELD,” Vicki said. “Regardless of which group I am teaching, they all come from such diverse backgrounds, but they all want to just learn. I mean my refugee students are willing to walk in the rain to get to school every day – whatever it takes. They are all here. They have a goal in mind, and my job is to help them succeed.”