Tracy Livingston, Republican For Az Superintendent of Public Education

Students taking tests are always given the right answer in the curriculum before being asked to check the box next to the that answer, which is exactly what Arizona teacher Tracy Livingston is out to accomplish between now and when citizens of Arizona go to the polls in November 2018.

That’s what candidate for AZ State Superintendent of Public Education Livingston is doing as she zig zags across, “The biggest classroom in the world..all of Arizona,” she said as we talked recently for an hour about her adventure as still – teacher first, candidate second. “Schoolteacher on the road; that’s what I am,” she said. “I’ve got the biggest classroom in the world and I love it,” Livingston said. “I loaded my teacher-trolley and this year the curriculum is – my experience of 18-years in Arizona classrooms.”

Clark H. Caras – “So teach (Have always wanted to get away with that!)  what’s the right answer on the test come November?”

Teacher Livingston – “To vote. And to vote for a teacher to finally lead our schools in Arizona.”

And in fact. If Livingston is elected it will be the first time anywhere in the United States a teacher will ever be a “state superintendent.”

Clark H. Caras – “So, why should Arizona make history and choose you, a teacher, as State Superintendent?”

Teacher Livingston – “The governor is typically from business. A state treasurer is usually a ‘money person.’ An attorney general from the ranks of law and is an attorney. Superintendent of Schools. It makes sense the right answer for it… a teacher.”

You want to read candidate Livingston’s platform for election, go to tracylivingston.vote ; but you want to see what makes teacher Livingston want to seek being that right answer in November – keep your eyes to the page and don’t cheat by looking at your neighbor’s paper.

Clark H. Caras – “If you love teaching and the classroom, why leave it?”

Teacher Livingston—“I’ve spent my career teaching walking from the door of one classroom to another. This will be closing one door and opening another and making sure it doesn’t get closed by bureaucracy. There will be truth and transparency. And promises made will be promises kept. Taxpayers have a right to know what is happening.

I’ve learned that lesson in teaching. You stop keeping the promise you make to your students; well, that’s when they stop listening.”

Clark H. Caras – “So all your ideas you apply in life can’t totally be from your profession. What books are you reading right now?”

Teacher Livingston—“Easy answer. Charles Krauthammer’s, ‘Things that Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics.’ It is filled with so many stories that are so personal to him. He relates so much of himself in them and I do so admire him.

And the other is Angela Duckworth’s, ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ .”

Clark H. Caras – “So most people know Mr. Krauthammer as a Pulitzer Prize winning author, columnist, physician, and political commentator. But Grit and Duckworth?”

Teacher Livingston – “Duckworth is a psychologist who believes anyone can be ‘gritty.’ And GRIT is what she has proven can be brought into every classroom for each teacher and each child can succeed. Not a common core, but personal success. Whether you are a West Point cadet, CEO, salesman, farmer – we all have Grit and can succeed with it.”

Clark H. Caras – “Tracy. What are some of the things you like, besides teaching, making you who you are?”

Teacher Livingston – “I love being surrounded by people. The more there are around me, the happier I am. I love all things Sun Devil, especially the two degrees I got from there.” She chuckles. “I love writing, but am a starving writer. I’m finally a reluctant football fan, which makes my husband happy. And of all things, I love my 26-year old son.”

Clark H. Caras – “Only him?”

Teacher Livingston – “I would love to spoil him all day. He’s my baby boy, an only child. And yes, he’s been the guinea pig for a lot of lesson plans over the years. In fact, he’s what you might call every teachers child.”

Clark H. Caras – As a big smile reminds me of the year in middle school I had my Uncle Page as my teacher ‘Mr. Harrison’. I can’t resist the ask. “So has you son ever been in ‘Mom’s’ class?”

Teacher Livingston – “He has been in my class. The Sunday School class I taught. He became ‘Mr. Know-it-all. He had to learn to ‘share’ mommy. And for about three years he was home schooled, back in the day when you had to have a certificate from the Department of Education”

Clark H. Caras – “What was being an only child, and only child in class work out for the two of you?”

Teacher Livingston – “Fantastic for three years. He had a real talent, I mean, real ability; for tennis. So the home school let us travel to tournaments around the country. And one time even the opportunity to live in Spain. But then he came to me and in so many words said, ‘Mom. I love you, but I can’t stand you anymore.” She laughs. “He’d decided on his own he wanted the classroom experience.”

Clark H. Caras – “What made you want to get into teaching?”

Teacher Livingston – “Retail sales.”

Clark H. Caras – “What?”

Teacher Livingston – “Well my degree was in broadcasting from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. But for my husband’s work we moved to San Francisco and I was offered a job in retail. And seeing as how the market in my degree was so competitive in the Bay, and I loved to shop, figured I might as well take the job.”

Clark H. Caras – “And this led to a career in teaching just how?”

Teacher Livingston —  “In the area of the store I worked in; sort of a top end sporting clothes area for women. They would bring their children in. I just loved laughing and joking with them. I was as at ease talking to adults and to children.

I was offered a job as a Buyer. You know, Fashion Week; knowing trends and what volumes to buy. That’s when my sweet 70-year old manager came to me and said, ‘Tracy. You need to be there for the kids. It’s something that has never left me. And I guess it’s kind of obvious what I chose?”

Clark H. Caras – “Regrets?”

Teacher Livingston – “I love these little things! Our kids. I have never done something in my life that is more calming. Some people are born to be athletes. Others have a talent in technologies and business. I can be very honest, when I say this about myself. Besides the love I have for teaching, I have a knack for it.”

Clark H. Caras – “If you were to say you have a weakness, what is it?”

Teacher Livingston – “Oh, that’s easy. I don’t want to disappoint people. That is sort of a strength though too. It allows me to recognize where something might be about to fail and therefore keep myself from doing it – failing.”

Clark H. Caras – “Do you believe one person can make a difference?”

Teacher Livingston – “Do I ever! Yes, in teaching you see it and hear it happening so often.  Stories of kids and their ‘favorite teacher.’ They aren’t usually stories about the teacher who didn’t teach them something.’”

Clark H. Caras – “Who is a HERO in your life?”

Teacher Livingston – “Easy. My parents. My dad, when he walks into a room he can just light it up. The other two are my grandparents. The Big Four, I call them. Dad, mom and grandparents.”

Clark H. Caras – “What makes them the Big Four?”

Teacher Livingston – “Grandad. He was a cop in New York City for 20-years and when they moved to Phoenix he was a security guard. My grandparents taught me I could do anything I wanted to.” She chuckles as she moves to dad and mom. “My dad. My dad sells caskets and does a very good job of it. And mom, she worked for McGraw Hill. That’s probably where I get my love of, and desire to be a writer.”

Clark H. Caras  — “How would you sum up your growing up years?”

Teacher Livingston – “Grew up in Phoenix. Went to, and graduated from Central High. I was, if not showered with a lot money, even if not without a lot of money.”

Clark H. Caras – “An issue in education some might not think important, but one trending out there. How do you feel about teaching or not, cursive?”

Teacher Livingston – “it was the Golden Rule of teaching in the second and third grades. It needs to stay that way. You don’t see other nations stopping the practice of writing their language. So why are we?”

Clark H. Caras – “Favorite things in your life are….”

Teacher Livingston – “Friendships. If I’m at all hard to get to know, don’t worry. Because once you do, I’m a lifer! Favorite thing to watch, House of Cards. Adoptions and rescues of dogs. We have two. Siberian huskies – Kathryn and Spence. And I love roses, peace and happiness.”

Other “likes”, from the candidate include golf, museums and Broadway plays and musicals.

Clark H. Caras – “Favorite foods?”

Teacher Livingston – “Well. I’m no Betty Crocker and we lived in San Francisco so it’s easy to say Chinese and Japanese.”

Clark H. Caras – “My understanding is you are coming up on  kind of Bucket List experience?”

Teacher Livingston – “Yes. We’ve been trying to do this for eight years and our Visas just came last week (June 19th). We are leaving in just two weeks and will be in China for two weeks with eight days of that allowing me to teach at a private Chinese English immersion school. We will be in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.”

Clark H. Caras – “Sounds like we will need to continue this interview when you get back?”

Teacher Livingston—“Will be happy to. My husband David is joking our flight over last 12-hours. He’s betting I can get to know everyone on the flight over.”

By Clark H. Caras

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