Pretending becomes reality

In honor of Black History Month, assistant principal Joi Cartmill remembers her legacy


Courtesy of Joi Cartmill.

A young girl lines her dolls on the ground, placing ‘important papers’ in front of each one after picking them up for ‘school.’ She then proceeds to teach her dolls the lesson she created for the day.

After traveling during her childhood because of her father’s job, assistant principal Joi Cartmill decided to go to college in Chicago, Illinois where she was born. While studying community health education at Illinois State University (ISU), Cartmill changed her mind and decided to pursue her first love – teaching.

“In elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher but then as I got a little bit older, I wanted to do something in fitness,” Cartmill said. “Then I got to college and thought, ‘OK yeah I want to do cardiac rehab and community health education.’ I did that for a little while and realized it was difficult to gain employment, so I went back to school, got my teaching credentials and absolutely fell in love with it.”

Coaching cheer for 19 years, Cartmill decided she wanted to advance her career because she enjoys hearing students’ stories and helping them push through any troubles they’re facing.

“She was my cheer coach my freshman year for the competition team,” senior Clara Raper said. “She taught me to be the best I can be and to not be a wimp because whenever she was my coach, I was scared to do a certain tumbling pass and she just kept on pushing me like, ‘You have it I know you can [do it].’ She’s always pushing people to be the best they can be. She helped me grow as a person throughout my entire high school career.”

Even though Cartmill enjoys her career, she says it can be challenging to be seen as the authority figure; however, she puts all her effort when it comes to representing the school and helping students.

“I feel like, as an administrator, I get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with kids and really know their story and journey,” Cartmill said. “And that really helps play a huge role in how you deal with each individual student because it’s not cookie cutter. It’s not one-stop shopping. Everybody has a specific story and journey, so you try to tailor whatever you’re doing around that student’s needs.”

Principal Jeffrey Kajs believes Cartmill always puts in her best time and effort whenever she’s in charge of projects or activities involving the school with her Farmer pride, consistency and high expectations.

“Each [assistant principal] has their own positives and things they do well and what Cartmill does is pay attention to detail [and] communicate effectively,” Kajs said. “I think she takes these two things and applies them to everything whether it’s dealing with parents, students or launching a program. She is professional [and] a good representative for our school.”

Cartmill continues to strive to improve the lives of her students. She values her students and encourages their success.

“It’s really more about doing the right thing for the right reasons because that’s how you sleep well at night [knowing] you’re really being impactful in somebody’s life,” Cartmill said. “If you know no matter what you did that day [and] no matter what situation you face, you did the right thing for the right reason, it makes everything worth it [because] you know you are really affecting somebody’s life for the better, even if it doesn’t even look like it on the surface.”