Teacher Spotlight: Sandra Blount

Teacher Spotlight: Sandra Blount

How do you follow up an award winning career in marketing? You jump in the classroom to share your best practices with tomorrow’s business leaders! Come see what makes Mrs. Sandra Blount so special.

Adam: Where were you born?

Sandra: I was born in a tiny little town in Texas called Rockdale, Texas. In fact, I’m not even sure you can find Rockdale, Texas on the map. 

Adam: What was your path to Knoxville?

Sandra: So my husband has a brother and his wife that have lived here in Knoxville for probably 20 something years, and we came on vacation here two or three times from Colorado and each time we came on vacation we were like, you know, if we ever left Colorado, we would think about moving to Knoxville. We never thought that would happen, to be honest with you. Never thought we’d leave Colorado, but when we became empty nesters, we did, and it turns out it was a great decision for us.

We’re glad to have you. When you were in high school, what was your mascot?

Sandra: The Bear Kat.

Adam: Bear Cat?

Sandra: It was half bear, half cat with a K. Yeah. Kind of weird. I know, right.

Adam: What college did you go to?

Sandra: Louisiana State University and then I actually ended up finishing my degree at Western Illinois University as a non-traditional student. I’d gotten married, my husband got transferred, and we’d already started a family, so I actually went back to school and finished my degree at Western Illinois as a non-traditional student, which basically means married with kids.

Adam: Okay. How’d you interact with traditional college students? 

Sandra: It was actually kind of funny being at Western Illinois because my son was like three and a half and then I got pregnant with Summer and even after Summer was born, there’d be a lot of days that Summer or Justin or both had to go to class with me because they had a fever, and the daycare wouldn’t take them. I got a lot of funny stares walking down the hallway or across campus with a backpack full of books and also a baby on my back. I’d have students pass by me and do a double take and say,” that lady has a baby on her back!”.  It was something they were not used to seeing, someone going to college with kids and going across campus with an infant basically.

Adam: Well good for you not letting that detract or keep you from pursuing your goals. What did you major in?

Sandra: Business Marketing. Got my degree in Marketing.

Adam: And how many years have you taught now?

Sandra: This is my fifth-year teaching. I decided to switch careers at the age of 55 and went back and got my teaching license and my master’s in education. This is actually my fifth year of teaching.

Adam: Wow! Okay. And how many years at HVA?

Sandra: Five years

Adam: All five have all been here?

Sandra: Yes, I don’t plan on going anywhere. I love HVA.

Adam: All right! HVA loves you. Are you involved in any clubs or do you coach any sports?

Sandra: I am now in charge of Future Business Leaders of America. Just took over that position this year.

Adam: Well, thank you for doing that. What do you want the kids in that group to gain from being part of that club?

Sandra: Certainly, coming from close to 30 years in the business industry, I really want to grow that club and organization first with our membership over previous years, which we have accomplished that first goal. I want to teach them more leadership skills. I want to get them involved in more community service and bring in guest speakers where they can hear real world experience on different things. But mostly leadership is a big thing that I want to see happen, teach them more self-confidence, speaking skills and things like that.

Adam: What subjects are you teaching this semester?

Sandra: I teach Introduction to Business and Marketing, which is mostly freshman and sophomore. And then I teach Social Media Marketing and Analytics, which is juniors and seniors and Personal Finance, which again, is mostly seniors. Some juniors are in there. Also, I’m in charge of work-based learning students. 

Adam: Why did you get into teaching? Why make a change that late in the game?

Sandra: I get asked that all the time. I was just approaching my mid-fifties, had a great, great career doing what I had done, but I was tired of traveling for corporate America, and I decided that I wanted to be able to get to the end of my life and say I did something that mattered. Not like hitting sales goals every month, but to have a role in something bigger than myself.

Adam: When did you start feeling that?

Sandra: When we decided to move to Knoxville I wanted to make a change in my career.   When I met a lady at a UT tailgate party who told me she taught marketing to high school students. I knew then that I wanted to do that. I wanted to do something different and continue using my marketing degree, but I didn’t know what that was. I kind of just feel like that it came down to having an opportunity to meet this lady, and when she told me that she taught marketing to high school students. I said, “What??! High school students get to take marketing? I paid for a degree in that!”. And I thought….That’s pretty cool. It was then I knew what I wanted to do.  I think that sometimes God has a way of putting things on your heart or shutting doors so that He can open others, and I truly felt like God placed this woman in my pathway to meet her, to open up my eyes to what He was wanting me to do. I don’t think I would’ve ever thought about teaching if I had not met that lady that day, honestly.

Adam: That’s pretty cool.

Sandra: Yeah. Isn’t it? I think everything happens for a reaso

Adam: You have five years’ experience. What’s the funniest teaching story so far?

Sandra: Probably my first year of teaching when these two kids decided that they would have a food fight in a computer classroom, and I say it’s funny,  because it basically totally shocked me that they were having a food fight. But what makes it funny is that I start off with telling my students, I’m not a huge rule maker.  I tell my students, “I don’t believe in making a lot of rules, mostly because I came from a household of seven kids and we had a lot of rules!. My dad was military, my mother was Southern Baptist so if you think there was not a lot of rules in our house, guess again, we had rules like crazy. ” I tell them that unless you make me make another rule, my only rule is no cell phones out in my class. After that day I had to make a new rule: “NO throwing food in a computer classroom. We cannot do that.”

Adam: Do you have any heartwarming teaching stories to share? 

Sandra: Yes; I do my best to put up positive words of motivation on the screen every day when the students come into my class to start off with a positive word of motivation, because I’m a big believer that there’s a lot of power in positivity,  so I make it a habit to share that with my students. At the end of the year, one of my students told me that one of the things he really enjoyed about my class was hearing those positive words of motivation every day. He says to me, “I don’t know if you know this or not, but I suffer from anxiety and depression and hearing those words every day made a big difference.” I thought that that was pretty cool that he shared that with me, because I never really thought about it that way and that it could actually make a difference in their day.  I was really happy to hear that it had made that kind of difference. I know we have students that deal with mental health issues and stuff like that, but for him to be able to verbalize what it meant to him, that meant a lot to me.

For some of those kids it’s the only time they’ve ever heard, ‘great job.’ A lot of kids don’t have a whole lot of positive encouragement on the home front. Some do, but some don’t. Some have never even heard the words “I love you” or “great job, keep up the good work.” So I try to keep that as part of my daily positivity in my classes.

Adam: What would you do if you weren’t teaching? 

Sandra: I’m sure I would be involved in marketing in some way. I mean, it’s what I know and love, maybe back at being a sales trainer or sales manager.  Once I finally retire in 10 years, I’ve actually thought about doing motivational speaking and I’ve always wanted to author a book…more than one. I’ve got a couple titles in mind. That’s something that I would really like to do one day is write books and get published.

Adam: Okay. You know, sometimes you can look up and life has passed you by. What could you do now to make at least one of those books a reality? What pace could you start?

Sandra: I actually started writing during COVID.  I’ve got several titles in mind, but I’d also like to do a children’s book first. Then I’ve got some other novels in mind, but it’s about finding time where I have peace and quiet and solitude, and that just doesn’t happen a lot right now – not as a teacher.

Adam: You have to make it. It’ll never come to you. 

Who was your favorite teacher when you were a student and why?

Sandra: It’s always a great question, and it’s pretty amazing to me how people can right off the bat name their favorite teacher; mine was Mrs. Scott, and it was when I was in the fourth grade. I’m not sure when I look back why she was my favorite teacher, because that was a whole lot of years ago, but just the love that she showed to her students on a daily basis. I think that is what makes me so fondly remember her, being just supportive and loving.

Adam: Which educator at HVA have you learned the most from?

Sandra: That’s pretty easy. Suzanne Rodger. She’s really been a great role model and guide for me particularly during the first year of teaching. Three weeks after school started, I was in a major car accident with a tremendous concussion and went through surgeries and physical therapy for close to a year and a half. She was definitely the one that helped me, because I couldn’t remember anything once I got back due to the concussion.; It was like it was the first time I’d ever seen the marketing material. I just could not remember it. Suzanne was really good about helping me relearn things on the computer that I had to learn, being my backup and guiding me. And she’s just always so helpful to me.

Adam: Have you earned any professional awards?

Sandra: When I worked for the multimedia company in Colorado, I regularly received awards for top sales. I was a pretty good salesperson.

Adam: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

Sandra: I’m super proud of going back to school at the age of 55 and becoming a teacher and getting my master’s in education at the same time. 

When I was in college at LSU, I played on the inaugural softball team in 1979 and 1980. They had a big athletic banquet with all the men and women athletes at LSU. I was a freshman, and I was awarded the STEAL award on the softball team. It stood for sportsmanship, teamwork, enthusiasm, attitude, and loyalty. It was a nice plaque that I was given, so I’ve always been very proud of that award.  Many think when they see the award that it was for stealing bases, although I was very good at stealing bases too!

Adam: That’s the next question. Are you slow or you fast?

Sandra I was pretty fast on the bases.

Adam: What do you wish every parent knew?

Sandra: The level of education that a lot of teachers have, which are Masters and PhDs; and I wish they knew the true number of things we do as a teacher, particularly these days with so much mental health going on with students. We change hats on a regular basis throughout the day, going from being the teacher, a counselor, a listening ear, and comforting those who are struggling emotionally.

Adam: What do you wish every student knew?

Sandra: Just how much we really, truly care about them. We don’t just say that, we really mean it.

Adam: What’s the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher?

Sandra: I think a great teacher goes above and beyond to find unique and different ways to teach your students and to reach different students and learning abilities. I’m constantly researching and trying to find new activities and new lesson plans so I can change it up and keep them engaged. I think that’s what makes a great teacher, someone who’s constantly working to improve their teaching.

Adam: What improvement would you most like to see made to public education? Anything?

Sandra: I know that people say this all the time, people that aren’t teachers and teachers say this, teachers don’t get near enough pay; they should get paid more and I believe that too. Pay has not kept up with the cost of living for teachers across the United States, not just here. As teachers, most will tell you they don’t do it for the pay, but pay certainly doesn’t hurt. Helps pay the bills. I think it’s important to have leaders in public education that have actually been in the classroom, and if not, they should certainly visit the classrooms a lot more. It might open up their eyes to some of the things that they see. 

Adam: What do you think giving additional pay to teachers would do?

Sandra: Well, I know some teachers that work a job in summer,  just to bring in extra money. Additional pay for teachers gives them a chance to enjoy life a little bit more. Make more money, spend less time having to work a summer job.

Adam: What is something that you could use for your class?

Sandra Lots of tissues. I’ve never gone through so many tissues in my life. I’m always out of tissues! But in my classroom, more technology.  With my social media class, I was grateful to see the county approve a program called Stukent. It’s a learning platform for social media. It’s like a real live social media job, but it is a simulator, and the students love it!

Adam: How does it work? 

Sandra: It is specifically for social media marketing classrooms. It has chapters and lessons and even assessments. Then part of it is a real-life simulator for a fictitious company called Buhai Bags. They sell backpacks and all kind of different stuff. The students actually post content on the social media simulator. They create content for the simulator, and it shows them how many people they’ve reached each day.  Kids today are so used to technology that it’s important that we have more availability to different technology if we’re going to continue engaging our students and have them learn.

Adam: Sweet. What hobbies do you have?

Sandra: I love gardening. I love to paint. I love art. I do a lot of painting in the summertime and holidays. I also love photography and traveling. 


Adam: What’s a good way for a student or a parent to spoil you?

Sandra: Gift cards to restaurants or things like that.

Adam: What’s your favorite restaurant?

Sandra: I love Aubrey’s and Chuy’s restaurant. Just even the cards and the small things that they do is so meaningful. To hear from a former student after they graduated, to get an email from them or a card that comes to the school. To see their written words about how much you influenced their decision to go into business and marketing. That’s super rewarding and what it’s all about!

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