The path to growing up isn’t perfect; just ask Broadmoor’s principal
Galinda Everhart took a detour to success.
And although the Broadmoor Elementary School principal isn’t particularly proud of the fact she dropped out of school to marry at 15, she isn’t embarrassed either.
“My life is an open book to my students,” Everhart said while sitting in her office earlier this month. “I tell the kids I made a bad choice in dropping out when I was young but I moved forward and corrected it. You can always make better choices later on. The truth is, sometimes you’ve got to fail in order to get to where you need to be.”
In truth, Everhart never failed. She’s still married to Stacey Everhart, the fry cook who first caught her eye at Dairy Queen way back when both teens went to work for the newly opened restaurant on Marland.
It wasn’t long before love and wanderlust took the couple to Ohio where Everhart found another waitressing job and her new husband worked construction jobs.
When homesickness settled in a year later, the Everharts – who’d earned GEDs by then – returned to Hobbs. It was time to settle down and start a family.
Over the next decade or so Everhart held a variety of side jobs while she raised her three children.
Then came a substitute teaching stint at Houston Middle School that set the path for another one of those detours.
“I remember telling her, ‘Oh my gosh. You have the gift. You need to be teaching,” said Karen Loving, then a Houston assistant principal.
Everhart was flattered by the advice, but wasn’t so sure. The seventh-born in a family of 10 children where the importance of education had always been emphasized, Everhart had watched the world – and her siblings – pass her by in academic success.
One sister was a CPA, another sister was a nurse, all had graduated from high school and many had attended college. Everhart questioned whether it was too late to find her calling.
“I thought, ‘You can’t go back to school. It’s been too long. There’s no way,’” she said.
So, it was with no small degree of anxiety that the 33-year-old dropped her youngest off for kindergarten (at Broadmoor, of course), then headed to New Mexico Junior College to begin work on a teaching degree.
“I remember my husband had to practically take me by the hand to enroll,” Everhart laughs now.
Soon enough, by the end of the first semester, in fact, the future principal was hooked. “I knew that teaching was in my blood,” she said.
That wasn’t the only thing in her blood.
Raised as a first-generation American whose parents moved from their home to ensure success for their children, Everhart was familiar with the pride, work ethic and sacrifice characteristic of traditional Hispanic households.
That insight, coupled with the teaching “aura” that surrounded her, prompted Loving – by then Broadmoor principal – to hire Everhart even before her student teaching assignment was complete.
“I’d see kids who’d go into her classroom without a lot of confidence on the first day – especially some of our bilingual kids,” Loving recalled. “By the third or fourth week, Galinda had helped them to thrive. Man, they just would shine.”
Included among those shiners was Carlos Franco, whose family moved to Hobbs from Mexico in 2004.
“Like any mother, I worry about my kids. I was always worried about the education so I went every day to volunteer in the classroom or at the school,” Liliana Franco said, becoming emotional at the memory of her oldest son’s teacher. “I watch when I volunteer and I know a lot of teachers. In general, all of the teachers are good, but Mrs. Everhart – she was special,” Franco said crying. “She was very, very special.”
Slade Goss, one of Everhart’s former fourth-grade students, agrees. Goss has particularly sweet memories of rides to school every morning with her teacher after her father – headed for work at 4 a.m. – dropped her off at Everhart’s front door.
“She was always waiting there for me,” Goss said. “She was so influential to me. She helped me with everything.”
If Everhart was incredibly committed to her students’ welfare, she was only modeling behavior she saw in teachers and principals who mentored her.
Everhart believes that Broadmoor – where she taught for 16 years before being named principal last May – has an unusually tight bond among staff and students.
“There is a family mentality and culture here,” said the principal whose grandchildren and other relatives also attend Broadmoor. “Building relationships with students and their families is one of the most rewarding parts of teaching. We all are here to support one another and we are all here to hold each one accountable.”
And, if you can add some inspiration along the way, that’s OK too, according to the high school dropout.
“I think students need to realize that the path to growing up is not always perfect. In a kid’s mind, you go straight from high school to college and then straight into a profession with no blips in the road,” Everhart said. “Sometimes life doesn’t always turn out that way.”