Leslie Mertz is the Early Childhood Career and Technical Education teacher and daycare lead at Holloway High School. In this edition of Rutherford Faces, she tells readers how students at Holloway helped her find a sense of purpose and a way to give back.
Meet Career and Technical Ed instructor, Leslie Mertz
By GRAYSON LEE MAXWELL
Rutherford County Schools
Q: How did you end up in a CTE position at Holloway?
A: When I first moved to Murfreesboro, my husband went to MTSU. So that’s how I got here. I’m originally from Alabama. I was working at a nonprofit in Nashville and my husband was running sound and events at MTSU. So, I came and heard Cliff Sharp speak, who is the director of Greenhouse Ministries. I was finishing an internship and looking for a job. I worked at Greenhouse and did adult education, wrote grants, coordinated volunteers and did PR. From there I learned about Holloway. I directed preschool at our church and when I learned there was going to be a teacher retiring, I met with Miss (Sumatra) Drayton and started here. This is my fifth year. I’m a CTE teacher, but I also direct the daycare.
Q: What makes Holloway and the students here unique?
A: People don’t know about Holloway – or they don’t understand what it is. It’s a choice school. It’s a school for kids who want to get ahead so they’re extremely motivated, or for kids who maybe a traditional comprehensive high school wasn’t a good fit. I know every single one of my students’ names here. I know most of the kids here or at least their faces, and they know they can come to me if they need help. I believe that connection makes us unique. We get to know each other and spend time together outside of classes.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
A: I really enjoy getting to know the moms. Being a parent myself and walking through some of the things they struggle with ... I have resources and knowledge I want to share. I have three boys and I have a three-year-old, so I’m still going through some of this stuff myself. It allows me to mentor in a unique way. That said - I don’t know it all. I’m still learning.
Q: What values do you hold which make this a successful career for you?
A: I’m just a loving and accepting person. Especially with the moms. With the students I am still going to love them no matter what choices they make. I think my time at Greenhouse taught me these values. I grew up in a very small town, and when I came to Greenhouse I got to see where I started out and see what resources I had compared to the resources others have.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: I’m grateful to be a teacher. I didn’t set out to be a teacher. At all. But when I taught preschool, I got to spend a lot of time with my children. Now that my older two are in school, I’m still off work when they’re off during breaks and holidays. It’s an incredible blessing. I just have a lot of faith and think God orchestrated me to be here. I have learned people travel on different paths, and it's my job to help give my students the tools to get to where they want to be. To whom much is given, much is expected. You know?