OKEECHOBEE — Veteran Tamecia Morris Snowden moved from Los Angeles to Okeechobee with her mother when she was a junior in high school. One of their main reasons for leaving LA was the riots going on at that time.
After graduating from Okeechobee High School, Snowden joined the Army in 1997. She went to basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina followed by AIT at Fort Eustis, Virginia. She was trained for transportation management but never actually did that. Instead, she did personnel management. Her job was to keep track of training for everyone on base and make sure they were up to date. She set up the trainings as well. At one point, she did awards for all of Fort Eustis. “I’m super organized, and that was noticed,” she explained. “It helped me get promoted.”
She was stationed at Fort Eustis part of the time and Fort Rucker the rest. She served for a little over four years and was just about to be sent overseas to Germany, when she had to take a discharge for medical reasons.
While in the service, Snowden got an associates degree, and after her discharge, she did vocational rehabilitation. This is available for disabled veterans. She went to Troy University in Alabama and became a teacher, graduating in 2006.
She worked as a full-time sub that year and then came back to Okeechobee in 2007. She did her first full year as a fourth grade teacher at North Elementary School and stayed there for two years. In 2009, she was non-renewed due to budget cuts. She spent some time working for the VA and for a non-profit, but in 2013, was able to get back into the schools, landing a job at OAA (Okeechobee Achievement Academy). Reading and English were her subjects while at OAA. She stayed there for three years before taking a job with the Department of Juvenile Justice. Her son was a senior in high school and they offered her more money. She hated to leave, but as a single mom, finances were tight, she said. Your senior year is a very expensive year, and she had to be able to take care of her son’s needs. She taught for two years and spent some time as a transition specialist, getting the youths ready to go back out into the world.
In 2018, she began working at Seminole Elementary. She was recommended to Dr. Thelma Jackson, the SEM principal, by Cynthia Kubit, Central Elementary school’s principal. Kubit and Snowden had worked together at OAA, and Kubit thought Snowden would be perfect for the new ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) program.
She has students on all levels of the autism spectrum and teaches every subject in her classroom. When she first was asked to teach the ASD classes, she did not know much about it. At that time, they were labeled as VE teachers, varying exceptionalities, but the district wanted to create a learning environment for ASD students.
After her first year, she heard about the ASD endorsement and began researching it and what it would take to get it. She began taking classes, and it took about a year to complete them. In December of 2020, she finished and was awarded the endorsement in February.
The ASD Endorsement has helped and will continue to help her acclimate herself and her students to things that might change, understanding their nuances and helping them with social skills. It will help with integrating the students into society and will help her structure the curriculum around their abilities.
Snowden is certified in six different subjects or areas including reading, English for speakers of other languages, elementary education, English, Exceptional Student Education and now Autism Spectrum Disorders. She has an associates degree, a bachelor in elementary education and a masters in post-secondary education with concentration in instructional technology.