Growing up in Westerville, Dee Standish was always certain she wanted to be a teacher.
"As a kid, I loved kids," Standish remembered.
"I always knew I wanted to work with children in some way," she said.
After earning a bachelor's of science degree in education from Otterbein University in Westerville, Standish began her career working with children in earnest.
Students in schools in Perry, Gallia and Washington counties were impacted by her work as a substitute teacher and elementary classroom teacher.
Along the way, she received her master's degree in education from Marietta College.
Occupation: Director, Educational Talent Search, located at Washington State Community College.
Experience: Employed with program for 16 years. Previously, she was a substitute teacher and elementary classroom teacher in Washington, Perry and Gallia counties.
Family: Husband, Bill; three adult children; one granddaughter.
Hobbies: Zumba, bicycling, reading, walking.
Standish was called upon recently to share some of her experiences as director of Educational Talent Search, located on the Washington State Community College campus. There, she and her staff work with income eligible students in four Ohio counties who are the first generation of their families to attend college.
Question: What is Educational Talent Search? Why is it important to Washington County students?
Answer: Educational Talent Search is a four-county grant program funded through the U.S. Department of Education. We are funded annually at $303,090 and located on the Washington State Community College campus. Educational Talent Search serves 825 students in Meigs, Morgan, Washington and Noble counties, and all our services are free.
We work with students in middle schools and high schools, taking them on cultural trips, college visits and tours. It's to try to get them outside of the county-outside of their comfort zone.
We have students who have never been out of Washington County. We're letting them know it's OK to reach their goals and leave the county for awhile. It's to get them out there to see what the world has to offer.
Q: What does it mean for students who are first in their families to be attending college?
A: The way I was raised, we talked about college. It was not 'If you're going to college' but 'Where are you going to college?' It was always a topic of conversation. Parents of these students don't have the experience or knowledge to explore college.
It's rewarding to see students in seventh grade, where no one's ever told them before that they can go to college. Then they're in high school and applying to colleges. When they get an acceptance letter, it is so exciting for them. And then they go to college, they are on campus and they succeed.
Q: What is most challenging about your job?
A: It's convincing parents and the students to pursue higher education. There's a block in them somewhere that says 'I can't do it,' 'It's too expensive.' We do everything we can with financial aid to make them see that they can afford it. College is the most important thing they're going to do in life.
Q: What are the biggest rewards in what you do?
A: About 80 percent of the seniors in the Educational Talent Search enroll in college, which is much higher than the rate in Ohio or even locally. I like seeing students succeed, then contacting us and remembering that we were part of their success. We were mentors, tutors, whatever we needed to be for them.
In some families, the whole family remembers how important we've been to their child. We're proud like an aunt or an uncle.
Sharon Bopp conducted this interview.