Our October Magic City Momma of the Month, Tamala R. Maddox is living proof that you can have it all. The hardworking momma who made history as the first African-American female principal in Hoover recently took time out of her busy schedule to talk to me.
Tell me about yourself.
Tamala R. Maddox from Columbus, Georgia. I graduated in 1986 and left for Army Reserve boot camp in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, three days later. I signed up for split training so after completing boot camp (hardest thing I had ever done), I returned to the campus of Auburn University. The following summer I went for training in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to become a field medic. I was in the Army Reserve for eight years. I completed my undergraduate degree in 1990 in secondary mathematics education and started working as a math teacher in Columbus, Georgia, at Shaw High School. I completed my masters in secondary mathematics education in 1992. I married Derrick Maddox in 1993, and we moved to Lilburn, Georgia, in 1994. I continued to teach high school math at Berkmar High School and also worked at a tutoring center and as an adjunct professor at Georgia Perimeter College. His job brought us Birmingham—Hoover—in the fall of 2000. I continued teaching here at Hoover High School and went into administration at Bumpus Middle School in 2003. I earned my educational specialist and PhD from UAB in 2010 and 2011, respectively. I have a 30-year-old step-daughter, Jazmine, and three other daughters, Jailyn, 17, Joiya, 15, and Jordyn, 13. I became principal of Bumpus Middle School in 2011 and began sixth year this g fall. I recently ended my term as president of Alabama Association of Middle School Principals.
What are the best and worst things about living in Birmingham?
The best thing about living in Birmingham is being near my husband’s family. His family and my church family have been a tremendous support system for me as I raised three young girls while pursuing my career and furthering my education. The worst thing about living in Birmingham is being away from my family. My mom is still in Columbus, Georgia, and my six siblings are all in the Atlanta Metro area along with my best friend and all of my nieces and nephews.
If you could change one thing about Birmingham, what would it be and why?
If I could change one thing about Birmingham it would the infrastructure. I don’t use 65, 280 and 20/59 much, but I feel for those who must on a daily basis. Everything I need in Hoover is within 10 to 15 minutes of my home. If I had to commute on any of those roads, I’m sure I would be frazzled.
What is your proudest momma moment?
When I hear my girls integrate the Lord into whatever they’re doing. You could easily find Gospel music blaring from upstairs and the three of them singing to the top of their lungs. Or leading the team devotion or leading the prayer at an event when a volunteer is needed.
What’s your proudest personal moment?
When I was selected to be principal of Bumpus Middle School. As the first African-American female principal in Hoover, I wasn’t sure if the risk would be taken, so I’m proud that I had shown myself to be an effective leader…enough so to push past any reservations that may have been out there.
What tips do you have for other mommas who are juggling raising a family with having a career?
My girls have been given responsibilities since they were young. Jailyn’s first job when she was three was to take the whisk and dustpan after dinner and sweep under the dinner table. It has to be a team effort. I make a lot of lists…probably too many, but I find that it minimizes having to repeat myself and helps to alleviate misunderstandings. I use a dry erase calendar for the month to list “who’s on first.” My girls play school basketball and AAU basketball, and I have to attend all evening school events, so syncing calendars is a must.
What advice do you have for other mommas contemplating going back to school after they have kids?
Make sure you have a support network. There was never an event that my girls had while I was in school that someone who loved and cared for them wasn’t in the audience or present. Now that someone might be a church member, my neighbor, or even my bookkeeper from school, but they were cheered like every other child. You can’t put their lives on hold but that doesn’t mean you have to put yours on hold either.
What’s next for Tamala R. Maddox?
I just had one to leave the nest for college, so I’m adjusting to that. The reality of having only five more years with “birds in my nest” is so hard to believe. I do not currently have aspirations for another position because I’m still working on being the best that I can be at this position. As I enter my sixth year, I believe things are starting to gel, and I can see my vision for my school, my staff and my students taking shape. I want to see that through first.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I believe that it is important that your children recognize and appreciate what you do on a daily basis. They see me give 100% at work and then 100% to them. Because of that they’re willing to deny themselves when they can see that I need some me time.