How Dr. La-Toya Facey-Walker transitioned from third-grade teacher to SchoolMint account executive.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but my parents are from Jamaica. So although I consider myself American, I grew up immersed in Jamaican culture and Jamaican values. And although I grew up in Long Island, around age 13, my family moved to Florida, where I’ve been ever since.
(Now, if you’re thinking I spend my days lounging on the beach and soaking up the warm Florida sun while I speak to district administrators, I actually can’t tell you the last time I went to the beach!)
Starting in the Classroom
I pursued my bachelor’s degree in elementary education at a South Florida HBCU — Florida Memorial University. Afterward, I got my master’s degree in elementary education as well. And finally, to round out my academic career, I got my doctorate in educational leadership with a specialization in technology.
With such a wealth of education knowledge and training, I felt ready to move into the classroom. And I did so by starting as a third-grade teacher — but third grade wasn’t where I’d intended to start.
In the summer prior to the school year, I was set up in my classroom to teach second grade. I had my classroom decorated and everything for them.
Well, when I got there, the enrollment numbers weren’t there for second grade. And so, being the newest teacher hired, I got moved to third grade.
I remember being so disappointed, thinking, “Oh my gosh, this can’t be this the way I’m supposed to start my career.”
And for as doom and gloom as I’d initially reacted, that school year turned out to be one of the best for me! Teaching third grade was a great entry point into education, and it really solidified that I’d found where I was supposed to be.
Although I left the classroom after six years, I didn’t leave education. Once an educator, always an educator, and so I wanted to still positively affect the teachers and students I’d grown to adore.
I moved into an instructional facilitator position within my district, later moving into district leadership. With 10 people on our team, we worked with Tier Three and Tier Two behavior students and their teachers in creating strategic behavior plans to ensure the students moved downward from Tier Three. We spent our time checking for efficacy, evaluating students, evaluating teachers, and streamlining the behavior tracking process.
My background in the classroom and in administrative roles has helped me immensely with what I do now. I can speak the language of administrators, coaches, and counselors — because I’ve been there. I’ve been in their shoes. I know their challenges. I can explain to them how SchoolMint’s solutions can align with their school or district’s vision.
And when I’m able to find that fit, find how our products align with their needs, I can build relationships with them and be successful in that call.
So before coming to SchoolMint, I knew of the company because my daughter’s school actually uses SchoolMint for enrollment.
When I was ready to transition out of the school board, I knew I wanted to break into tech (as they say on TikTok).
However, I wasn’t sure what was going to be my entry point. I was considering a variety of roles, things like enablement or professional development, but when I saw the job description for a SchoolMint account executive, I figured, “You know what? If I’m going to do it, let’s go. I’ll see what happens.”
And so in November 2021, I joined SchoolMint as an account executive (AE) for our positive classroom solutions. In this role, I’m a partnership professional who helps school and district leaders get solutions that help solve their challenges with classroom management, attendance, coaching, and more.
The Day to Day of a Remote Mintee
To be successful day in, day out, I keep a routine. After having worked in a brick-and-mortar space for many years, I needed the structure of a routine. So that means each day, I get up, prioritize coffee first — always coffee first — and prepare for the day. I check my emails, check Slack, and write a to-do-list. You could say I’m very old school in that regard.
That list guides my day, and my day can range from having a client call to sending emails, following up, or doing research on a district I’m wanting to reach out to.
The more strategic I am with research and my potential partners, the better prepared I am for the conversation, and the better I can ensure it doesn’t come off as a sales conversation.
I want each call to feel as if that school leader is talking to a friend, one who just so happens to be offering a platform that can make their job easier. And I find that approach to be beneficial for me.
Being a SchoolMint Account Executive
As an AE, I spend a lot of time speaking to school and district leaders as well as their support staff. Since I’ve been in their positions, I understand the value of their time and what they’re interested in.
By the time I get to speak to the decision maker (typically the administrator), I can get right to the point, speak their language, and ensure I’m not wasting their time. I pick out the things I know they’re specifically interested in, so my calls are always different.
I also tailor my approach to the persona I’m dealing with. I wouldn’t give the same talk track to a principal that I would give to a guidance counselor or teacher coach.
Knowing I’m part of having a positive impact on these schools and staff members — saving them time, improving their operational efficiency, helping them achieve their student behavior or teacher growth initiatives — gives me great joy.
After all, I’ll always be an educator at heart!
The Impact of Acknowledgement
Working in a school board, recognition or validation is one of those things you just don’t get. To keep going, you have to have intrinsic validation and intrinsic motivation. That’s the environment I was used to prior to coming to SchoolMint.
There was one day here, while at SchoolMint, where I was having a really bad day offline. A lot of things were going wrong. Later that day, there was a big company meeting.
My boss was speaking, and he announced, “Oh, kudos to Dr. Walker for…” It was about a deal I had gotten. And it caught me off guard because I wasn’t expecting it. And it felt good! That little gesture brightened my otherwise negative day.
I’m someone who’s very big on common courtesy, on saying thank you for anything that anyone does. Because of that, thanking the team on a day-to-day basis goes a long way for me. So it feels good to be in a place where that’s normalized.
I lead a very busy life outside of work. At home, I’m a married mom of two teenage daughters. But I also do speaking engagements, work mentorships, charity initiatives, and have been a panelist on a variety of education-related panels.
Additionally, I run a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness studio with my sister and am the business mind behind it.
And I like to write, too!
I wrote a children’s book called Brielle-Elaine Tries to Fit In! and published it through Barnes & Noble.
Click the cover image to check it out, read the summary, and get an ebook copy!
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