Debbie Houston is an educator, plain and simple. From starting out as a parent at the school, to becoming a teacher and now the Head of School at Chance School, Debbie walks the walk and talks the talk. She exudes professionalism and business savvy, but is quick to get on the floor and offer her lap to the two-year olds listening to a book in the library. To think that all of this started when she was a child, playing school with her dolls.
When did you decide that you wanted to be in education?
I have been a teacher since I was a young child playing pretend! Long before college and graduate school, I taught my stuffed animals and dolls, then neighborhood children, and later held summer jobs assisting and working with children, including children with special needs. I have worked as a pediatric audiologist and speech and language pathologist too.
How is Chance School a perfect fit for you?
Chance School is perfect for me! It is a school where learning is experienced and children are engaged and active in a creative, challenging, and joyful program in a community setting that feels like family. I think that is perfect for everyone! The staff and faculty are gifted and devoted, treat children and one another with dignity and respect, and are intent to develop confident, capable and inquisitive learners. Who wouldn’t want to be the head of a school like that? My husband and I chose to educate our own children here; I am committed to the mission and philosophy; and it is my privilege to lead us into the future.
What is your favorite age to teach?
I have taught Preschoolers, Kindergarteners, and Primary-aged children and many parents. I do not have a favorite age because the joy of learning never ceases when the learner is on a quest for knowledge. I love watching learners—young and old—discover and experience new things.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Finding the time to do all I want to do!
What is the easiest?
The easiest part of my job is loving the children and families of Chance School! I love the time I spend in the classroom with the children and partnering with parents! Having a Board of Trustees who support me, love innovative ideas and who believe in the mission and philosophy of the school make my job easier!
How do you balance your job and your personal life?
Not very well! I am devoted to Chance School and to my husband and family also. My husband and grown children are accustomed to making the good things going on at Chance School part of our discussions and lives. Fortunately, my children went to Chance so they have a love of it too. I also work to have fun in and out of Chance School!
What is the biggest life lesson you have ever learned?
Raising children is the most difficult, challenging, rewarding and most awesome job I have ever had and is full of life’s lessons!
Who is your mentor?
I have had many mentors in my life and continue to engage with others to help me grow and learn, but perhaps none more important than the same accountability and prayer group I have been privileged to be with for over 20 years.
What is best advice you have received in business?
Be proactive and not reactive.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
Teach parenting classes to young parents to help them encourage their children grow to be capable, responsible and confident—all without shame, blame and pain.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I usually read 4 books at a time—a Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, a spiritual book or my Bible, a business related book and another non-fiction book about something I am interested in learning. I reach for one of them each night, depending on my mood!
What is your favorite place to go eat?
I enjoy the many restaurants of Louisville, and my answer depends on what I feel like eating at the time. Local restaurants are always favorites. When the weather is nice, you will find me where I can eat outside—The Village Anchor for good food with friends, the patio at Decca enjoying friends and music or my own deck overlooking my back yard and woods.
Where do you like to shop?
I love to put together clothes from different places. I might wear a skirt from Boutique Serendipity or pants from Chico’s with a top from Talbots, Apricot Lane or Ann Taylor. I especially love to shop boutiques when I am out of town!
What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself?
A manicure and pedicure are musts for me, and a treat is a full body massage.
What is your weakness?
My weakness is also a favorite thing to do: I love to go to the movies with my husband and friends and eat Junior Mints and buttered popcorn with lots of butter.
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
See above for something I enjoy often. My favorite Louisville thing to do is go to the Derby.
Three things you cannot live without (besides God, family and friends):
Books, music and my Tempur-Pedic pillow
What are you reading right now?
What are three of your “favorite” things right now?
1. Playing with and listening to my two year old grandson, Henry. His thoughts and ways of expressing those delight my heart.
2. Planting my herbs and flowers to enjoy all summer and fall!
3. Watching my daughter as an incredible nurturing, intentional, loving brand new mom.
We so enjoyed meeting Debbie Houston in her element: around children. They light up around her and she lights up as well, as evidenced by the great pictures above. For more information about Chance School, click here: chanceschool.org.
Adele Reding is our photographer for FACES of Louisville and she always captures people at their best. Visit her website at adeleredingphotography.com.