Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

Woman of Wilson: Tara Loftis

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Tara Loftis has always followed her calling - no matter which career path she's on.

From social work to education, Loftis has always wanted to save the world.

Loftis is a born-and-raised Wilson Countian.

"My family is primarily from the rural Gladeville area," she said. "I come from generations of farmers and 'rural entrepreneurs.' My grandparents owned and ran the Cedar Forest Restaurant for years. It is actually the place my parents met when my mother was working there as a waitress."

Loftis graduated from Lebanon High School and was recognized as the Most Likely to Succeed in her class. She next attended Belmont University in Nashville, where she received a full scholarship, to pursue a major in Social Work.

"When I majored in Social Work at Belmont, I had aspirations to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate," she said, noting that she eventually made a career change and now serves as a secondary instructional coach and data specialist for Wilson County Schools at Wilson Central High School.

"Thankfully, my work with the school district has been the perfect coupling between my social work background and teaching experience. Ultimately, I am still a social worker, just in a different field of practice."

In her current role, which marks her 11th year in education, Loftis helps students and teachers reach their fullest potential. She is also one of the district's poverty trainers.

"I feel my job as an academic coach and poverty trainer is extremely rewarding by allowing me to give positive opportunities for teachers to improve their professional practice, and also help reach families in need across our district," Loftis explained. "The valuable training I provide teachers positively impacts students and families I will ultimately never meet."

She is in the process of obtaining her doctorate and hopes to be an administrator.

When she isn't working, Loftis enjoys time with her husband, Bryan, and their children, Ryder, 11, and Scout, 8.

She and Bryan were high school sweethearts and have been together for 19 years.

"We love hiking and exploring nature. Our family has stood at the tops of 14ers at glacier lakes in the Rocky Mountains and there is absolutely nothing comparable to the view of all creation when you reach the top," she said.

Loftis loves creating custom furniture pieces for friends and family through their business, Barton's Creek Chic.

"I think working with wood and helping cultivate it into a beautiful new piece ties into my social work and teaching passions. Everything has potential and possibility. You just need to look for it and be willing to get your hands dirty," she added.

The women Loftis most admires are some of her former teachers.

"Growing up in rural poverty, I had so many obstacles to overcome. Education was my ticket out of a destructive cycle. As a result of my home life, I was often a difficult student. I had bad experiences with teachers who didn't take the time to build me up and instead put me out in the hallway," she said. "However, I had transformational teachers would took the time to establish a relationship with me and encourage me to keep trying. Those teachers, then and now, are the ones I admire. The ones who have the power to change the life of a child for the better just by taking the time to love them."

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