“Everyone has a story to tell. It might or might not be a love story, It could be a story of dreams, friendships, hope, survival, or even death. And every story is worth telling. But more than that it’s worth living.” – Savi Sharma
My story began in 1977 in a small New Jersey town just 25 miles outside of New York City. I came to South Carolina in 1996 to attend Furman University and I never left the Palmetto State. I married my beautiful wife in 2018 and became an instant dad to a bubbly 9-year old girl. I have spent my entire professional career in education as a teacher and an administrator. I have been moonlighting as a mobile DJ for 17 years under the moniker DJ Positive. Whether at home with my family, at school with students, or in the DJ booth with my decks; I find purpose in spreading the positive. My story includes darkness, inner struggles, and self doubt. It hasn’t always been easy, but even at my most desperate, I persevered by finding hope in the positive. Writing has always been an escape for me and it continues to be a way for me to grapple with my thoughts and emotions. May my words encourage you, humor you, and inspire you. And may they help you to reflect on your own search for the positive.
With my wife Emily’s encouragement, I am now writing about life as it actually happens in the real world. She reminded me that everyone’s story includes a wide array of experiences, countless connections with people, and a multitude of lessons learned. So, if I want to truly tell my story, I must be brave enough to expound on the best and worst, the darkest and the brightest, and all the dirty work in between. However, when I started this site in 2015, I wrote from an educator’s perspective with the goal of sharing my story with teachers, and inspiring my fellow educators. I graduated from Furman University in 2000 with a B.A. in Elementary Education and took a position as a 3rd grade teacher in a town nearby. While I enthusiastically battled my way through that first year of teaching, I was also hard at work on a masters degree from Furman. Somewhere in there I also began to take gigs as a DJ. It was definitely a year without a social life, but by the time I began my second year of teaching, I had earned my masters degree in Behavior Analysis. I continued to teach 3rd grade for 17 years, with the undeniable motivation to create a classroom free from the stressors that overwhelmed me as a student. Ironically, my career choice as an educator was heavily influenced by disdain for school as a child.
It wasn’t the work or the routine of school I disliked, but rather the way I felt. I dealt with anxiety, OCD, and ADHD. On top of that; being a perfectionist caused me to turn inwards, hide my emotions, and force my way through the struggle by myself. I either didn’t want to admit I needed help or didn’t think anyone would understand. I often felt misunderstood, alone, and different from everyone else. I couldn’t save myself from my childhood educational experiences, but I wanted to save others. On a deeper level, I felt a strong calling to be the difference maker for the misunderstood, the anxious, and the overlooked.
In 2017, I made the move out of the classroom and into an administrative role as a behavior interventionist at a middle school. After earning my Ed.S. degree in School Leadership (Furman ’17), the itch to make the move was too intense to ignore. Then, in 2018, I married my beautiful wife and became an instant dad to my step-daughter, Lilly Kate. Suddenly, my life had a whole new perspective, purpose, and responsibility. I had spent 17 years carving out a powerful mission as a 3rd grade teacher. But in a matter of 357 days; I met the love of my life, graduated with an Ed.S degree, took a new job, turned 40, and made my love my wife. Yep, my life appears quite exciting when you condense it all down like that! Just kidding. That beautiful whirlwind of a time in my life was an enormous reminder that God’s timing is perfect. Life is taking me new places and I couldn’t be more thankful and excited. I’m still answering that calling to encourage students to challenge the status quo, find their passion, and never be afraid to be themselves. I adore my wife and daughter and I am dedicated to being their strong leader. I’m becoming a master of dad jokes, which may or may not be a good thing. I fall deeper in love with my wife every day and she undoubtedly makes me a better person. I am growing closer to Jesus and have never been more in tune with his purpose for my life. I have always striven to be an encourager and a positive influence, but I am beginning to dig deeper into the foundation of my testimony. My experience has not only motivated me to help others, but it has also empowered me with the empathy to do so. Sometimes we go through things in life in order to prepare us for the calling we receive to help others.