Thorpe-Odom always wanted to be a teacher, having come from a family that put their children through private school and emphasized that education was the key to success. With a passion for special education, she’s served as an administrator in Schenectady, New Lebanon, and Chatham, as well as at Northern Rivers. And throughout her work, her emphasis as an educator and professional has been about forming relationships.
What did you take away from your master’s degree program in education leadership and administration at Saint Rose?
Relationships, relationships – and they matter. People don’t remember always what you say, it’s what you don’t say. I always want to be able to allow people, and my students, my colleagues, and families, to have their voice, to be able to have that kind of station. I think Saint Rose really has prepared me to be able to be open, to be reflective, to really value people’s verbal cues, nonverbal cues, and be able to provide them with support and resources and make people feel comfortable to have that conversation.
What led you to become an administrator?
I wanted to go into administration because I really want to be an advocate for special-ed students. And I wanted them not to just be a separate group of students. I wanted them to be included because I really believe that all students deserve that type of education. The great thing about being a special educator is that you can be flexible – things don’t bother me. You just roll with it, and you make something out of nothing.
It’s like life. It’s going to take some grit, and it’s going to take some, you know, good times, trial and error. But then, the end of the project is just knowing that that child’s gotten through, that family has felt heard, that teacher feels supported and has learned something different.