Meet Your Neighbor is a feature of the Independent that introduces readers to a community member. To receive a profile form or to nominate a neighbor , send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dana Hawman is the public relations coordinator for the Apache Junction Unified School District.
Name: Dana Hawman
School district: Apache Junction Unified School District
Why I chose to work in the AJUSD: My kids went to school in the Apache Junction Unified School District and I worked as an administrative assistant in educational services here for about two years, leaving in 2005. Dr. Greg Wyman waited for a year to replace Dr. Gary Nine “with the right person,” but that left me as an administrative assistant with no administrator to assist. Since I am not good at twiddling my thumbs, I had to move on. My heart never really left AJUSD, though. This is a good district with a lot of great people who believe in kids, who believe in education, and who continue to do their best no matter what obstacles are thrown their way. Now I have experience building a public relations department with the Florence Unified School District to go with my degree in multimedia writing and technical communication, and I am just so excited to rejoin this awesome team, doing what I love for the district I love.
What I like most about what I do: I love shining the spotlight on teachers and administrators who do amazing things every day and have no idea that what they do is special. They’re just doing their jobs and their reward is watching kids learn. When I show up with a camera and a note pad and say, “Hey, this is really cool; I want to write a story about it,” it takes them totally by surprise. They and their students just beam.
Where I’m from: I’m from St. Joseph, Missouri. I’ve lived in Arizona for 24 years now.
If I had picked a different occupation, it might have been: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but, as a child, I couldn’t have dreamed what direction my talents would take me. When I retire, I’d like to write historic fiction.
What I’m looking forward to the most this school year: Seeing the school override pass (fingers crossed). I have to tread lightly in my response here, as district employees are severely limited in what we can and cannot say as representatives of the district; however, I think it is safe to state that the district has had to cut many programs that supported learning for the kids because the override election did not pass in 2010 and the funding is no longer there to support those programs. Seeing this from the perspective of nine years absence brought a great clarity to the situation.
My vision for the school: Teachers, staff, administrators, students, parents and the community working together for education and for an engaged, active and united community. The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” implies a unity that benefits everyone.
Favorite community cause & why: Education is my favorite community cause. I’ve tried working in the corporate world but the passion just isn’t there for me. I come from a family of teachers and I believe that strong public schools are at the very core of all possible solutions for our country’s problems. Whether it’s rebuilding the middle class that made this country great or providing intelligent, persuasive and creative leaders who can understand and guide our world to a better place, it all comes back to the education we provide for our kids today.
My interests and hobbies: My husband will tell you that my work is also my hobby. But I do enjoy reading, crafting and the occasional jigsaw puzzle.
The trait(s) I admire in others: Intelligence, humor, leadership, persistence, creativity and passion. I could go on. I can’t say that I’ve never met anyone I didn’t like, but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t have at least a few traits I admired.
People who inspired me (and how): I have to say my mom and dad. My mom could always find some good in everyone and everything. My dad could figure out how to do or make anything. And they both define integrity. They hold themselves to some very high personal values but don’t try to push their morals on others or to judge others by their standards. They aren’t saints, but perfect is boring.
My guiding philosophy: You can only see so far down the road, so you plan for the future based on what you know and what you can reasonably project. If you turn the corner and find out the scenery has changed, be flexible and have faith that plans made and lessons learned never go to waste. They may be used in a manner you would never have expected, but it all works out for the best if you let it.
My advice to today’s youth: Anything worth doing will have its challenges. If it’s easy, it will soon become boring. Look for the challenges, savor them, and you will have more fun and be more successful.
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