While some people know from the beginning what they are supposed to be doing in life, others need more time and guidance to figure it out.

While some people know from the beginning what they are supposed to be doing in life, others need more time and guidance to figure it out.
Despite a temporary delay, Mary Snowden regrouped to eventually fulfill what she believes is her calling in life.
Snowden was named the principal of Peake Elementary School in Arkadelphia during the summer of 2017. Prior to her current role, Snowden spent 11 years as an educator at Peake Elementary.
A native of Delight, Snowden graduated from Delight High School in 1992. She went on to attend Henderson State University for three years.
“I lost my direction and dropped out,” said Snowden.
To support herself, Snowden worked in fast food before taking a job at what was then known as International Paper in Gurdon in 1997. After working at International Paper for five years, Snowden decided it was time to return to the classroom to finish what she had started.
“That (working at International Paper) was not the purpose I had for my life,” Snowden said.
At the age of 29, Snowden enrolled again at Henderson State University. For the last three of the eight years Snowden worked at International Paper, she a was a full-time student, a full-time employee and a full-time mother. Her hard work and sacrifices paid off as she received a Bachelor of Science in education in 2006.
Shortly after her graduation, Snowden commenced her career as a fourth grade literacy and social studies teacher at Peake Elementary School.
One year later, Snowden returned to HSU in the school’s graduate program. In 2009, she received her Master’s degree in Advanced Instructional Studies with emphasis on ESL.
A quest to further better herself led her back to Henderson State in 2013 to enroll in Educational Leadership Program of Study.
“It was an 18-month program and I completed it in December 2014 with Building Level Leadership certification,” said Snowden.
After teaching fourth grade for four years, Snowden moved up to teach fifth grade literacy and social studies for seven years.
According to Snowden, visits to her daughter's classroom inspired her to major in education.
“Because working 3 to 11, the only time I could really spend with her was by going to her classroom,” Snowden said.
As a parent, Snowden would help the students in her daughter’s classroom.
“That’s kind of what led me to education,” Snowden said.
Another factor that led Snowden to education was her grandfather.
“It’s funny, because my sister and I were always straight A students growing up. My grandfather would introduce us to his friends that came by or any newcomers as his little school teachers,” Snowden said.
Snowden believes her grandfather helped set the stage for what would become her career.
Despite the challenges that come with being an educator, Snowden described her years in education as “rewarding.”
“When you think about the impact you are making on a child’s life it motivates you to be the best educator you can be,” said Snowden.
According to Snowden, there have been several students along the way who she believes she has steered in a more positive direction.
“I do go back and check on those students that seem like they were headed down the wrong road when they were here at Peake,” Snowden said.
In addition, Snowden believes that education is her calling. She believes compassion, concern, patience and resilience are the necessary tools for being an educator.
“If you are in education, especially teaching, you have to have lots of patience. You also have to be resilient because sometimes you are not everybody’s favorite,” said Snowden.
In addition, Snowden said being an educator requires one to be open-minded.
“You have to understand that not every child is going to have the childhood experiences that we as educators had,” Snowden said.
Snowden noted her transition from the classroom to the principal's office has been fairly easy.
"I credit the school culture that we currently have in place. Here at Peake, we see each other more as a family than we do colleagues. The support has been tremendous, not only from them, but from the superintendent's office down," Snowden said.
According to Snowden, Black History is important to her.
As a teacher, she made sure she incorporated Black History in her curriculum, not just in February, but throughout the year.
“It was important for me to impress upon my students, especially my African-American students, the sacrifice that had been made for people of color to open the doors that have been opened to us,” Snowden said.
As far as heroes in Black History, Snowden cited her grandparents, Eddies Sr. and Gracie Bell Beavers-Gentry, and parents, Leotis and Mary Gentry-Snowden, as individuals who influenced her the most.
“My grandparents raised me until I was 12. They always impressed upon us the benefits of getting an education and the benefits of being a hard worker,” Snowden said.
With the knowledge of her grandparents not going beyond an eighth-grade education, Snowden said she was motivated to take advantage of the opportunities that were available to her.
“As far as my parents, I grew up seeing my parents work hard to provide for our family,” said Snowden, who added that her father retired last year.
Snowden said her parents and grandparents supported her and her sisters in all of their academic endeavors.
Snowden is an active member of the Greater Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
“I love my church family. Greater Pleasant Hill has quite a few educators, so the support system from my church and the encouragement has been a plus,” Snowden said.
She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Her daughter, Amarya Jones, is scheduled to graduate from Henderson State University in December where she is majoring in elementary education.
“My career choice and my love for education has had an impact on my daughter. You would think it would deter her, but she sees my passion, my love and my dedication and she wants to follow in my footsteps,” Snowden said.