Pam Justice, assistant principal at Tuscola High School, loves interacting with the school's students. "I love to be out and about," she explains. "At class changes and lunch, I make it a point to be where the students are. I think they appreciate seeing me."

Justice knew she could make a difference in these students. While taking classes at Haywood Community College, this was about the age of her classmates. She found it easy to talk to them and build a relationship with them.

Through her job, she is able to build confidence in high school students. "When I decided to go back to school, I did not have a lot of confidence. But the smaller classes at HCC and the support the instructors gave me helped build my confidence. It was the ideal place to get started," Justice explains.

Recently, Justice received a doctorate in education leadership from Western Carolina University. After leaving HCC, she pursued a bachelor's degree in business. Next, she received a master's in education, then an advanced degree in education specialist.

"At HCC, I developed a sense of security. I knew I could do whatever I wanted to. When I got to Western, there's no doubt about it, I was prepared," she explains.

Throughout all of Justice's education, she was able to work full-time while raising two daughters. She says it would not have been possible without the terrific support she received from them, as well as her husband. It was a family affair.

Teaching is also a family affair for Justice. Her mom taught for 20 years. Currently, both her daughters have followed in their mom's footsteps. Both are also teachers.

"I love the interaction with students and staff," Justice says. "I love giving teachers the support they need to educate our children and take care of them. It's a pleasure to watch them grow."

But Justice enjoys being on both sides of the blackboard and is already looking for other classes she can take. "It doesn't matter what age you come back to school," she explains. "You can be successful. And starting at the community college was the best experience for me."