Becky Stinson Kreamer
Mar 02, 2016 12:52PM
● By Caitlin Marshall
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” –John Quincy Adams
As a young girl, it’s easy to envision life as a simple linear process… Get an education, marry Mr. Wonderful, buy a house, have a family and live the American Dream. Simple indeed, all you have to do is make the right choices and the fairytale is yours. Right!?!? Oh, if it were only that easy! So, what do you do if you make sound choices but life deals you a different hand—one you weren’t expecting?
Well, if you’re Becky Stinson Kreamer, you take a deep breath, find a new focal point and start all over again!
We pick-up Becky’s story in the early 1980’s where life was going according to plan, attending LSU and majoring in education. It was an exciting, but stressful time and in the midst of juggling classes and studying constantly, she picked up a cigarette and soon allowed it to become a constant friend. She also met someone special and they began to date. The relationship began to blossom and as Becky thought about her future, she realized she needed to stop smoking. “It wasn’t easy, but I made the choice to stop and I did.” she recalls, “One day I just decided to throw away my last pack of cigarettes and go for a run—I ran three miles and it almost killed me.”
[Kreamer is still an avid runner, completing 9 marathons to date, with aspirations to complete at least one more.]
Life was on the fast track, as her longtime boyfriend proposed as graduation was quickly approaching. It was 1985—a big year for Becky as she not only graduated with a B.S. in Special Education, but also got married. The path was set and her life as planned was beginning.
Shortly after graduating, she accepted a Special Education position in Jefferson Parish where she taught at-risk high school students. “I loved working with these kids… they really needed help. Most could barely read and many already had criminal records. Some had been abused and neglected for years.” says Becky.
As any teacher will tell you, there’s only so much you can legally do for these kids as a teacher; and when those avenues have been exhausted, but the child needs more, you find yourself in a very frustrating position. That is where Becky found herself, time and time again. She wanted to do more; she had to do more, so she decided to go back to school to become a lawyer. “I wanted to give abused women and children a voice, a chance to get out of a bad situation,” she explains.
Meanwhile, Kreamer found herself in a tough situation. After three years of marriage, things began to unravel at home. Her husband was battling a substance abuse problem that was just not getting any better and she was faced with a tough choice. Stay in the relationship and rely on his financial support while attending law school, or file for divorce and go at it alone. Becky knew in her heart, that the right thing to do for them both was to end the marriage.
“You can let fear paralyze you or you can face it and use it as a tool to improve,” says Becky. Now alone, she continued to work during the day and attend law school at night. Life was difficult but Kreamer never gave up. As she worked towards her degree, something unexpected happened… she met Charles “Chuck” Kreamer, a man that would forever change her life. Chuck was also in law school. The two started dating and quickly fell in love. The couple graduated with law degrees from Loyola University and got married on Becky’s birthday in 1993.
Moving to Lafayette, Becky quickly made the shift from education to litigation. Life was good and the couple was excited about the future. Now in her 30’s, Becky didn’t think that having children herself was realistic so she focused on helping women and children. She gave it her all, but after only a few years of practice, Kreamer could no longer deny the uneasy feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
Becky confesses, “It was devastating to me. Here I had invested all of this time and money into getting my law degree and it just wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t feel like I was making the impact that I wanted—I missed the classroom and I knew I needed to be around children more.”
She decided to transition back to her first calling, education. Abandoning law, she took a position with LPSS teaching children with developmental delays and learning disabilities. She loved being back in the classroom and she was blessed with co-workers who quickly became close friends. Once again, life was on track and the future was looking good. Not long after, the couple learned that Becky was pregnant! They were overjoyed, and preparations for the baby were in full swing. Then tragedy struck; at 25 weeks, she learned that her unborn son, Luke, had died.
Losing him was overwhelming she explains, “I would sit in his nursery, crying and praying. Those were tough times. Had it not been for the support of Chuck, our friends, family and our faith—I don’t know how I would have made it through those dark days.”
Time passed and she returned to the classroom, but the yearning to be a mother was now more prevalent than ever for Becky. However, becoming pregnant for a second time would prove difficult as the Kreamers were met with infertility issues. Faced with several options, the couple chose to have faith in God to set the plans for their future—knowing that if it was His will, it would happen. Remarkably, within a short period of time, she would become pregnant. Nine months later they were blessed with a beautiful baby boy, “Charles”.
Becky was now 35, an age when women are typically advised against having more children. Not the case for the Kreamers! Over the next three years, they would have two more children, Will & Elle! Now, with three kids in diapers, Becky decided to take some time off.
As she planned to return to work, she received a called from [then] LPSS Superintendent Burnell Lemoine telling her he wants her to assist with getting at-risk schools in the parish back on track. When Becky explained she wasn’t sure how to accomplish that, Mr. Lemoine told her, “I believe in you. I’ve seen the skills you bring to the table and I am sure you’ll know what to do.” It was his unwavering belief in her that gave her the confidence to take the position.
Becky, along with other educators, brainstormed and researched ways to better the school system. It was at this time that Becky learned of a school in Raleigh, South Carolina that succeeded in turning a failing school (on the brink of closure) into a thriving, successful school. Intrigued by the story, plans were made for Becky to visit the school to learn the methodology behind their success.
However, it was not to be—at least not then. While planning the trip, she received incredible news. She was pregnant! The doctors told Becky, who was now 46, that childbirth at her age was risky. Once again, the Kreamers put their trust in God’s hands and Becky gave birth to their fourth child, Thomas, with no complications.
Within weeks, Becky (determined to see the project through) was able to visit the school in Raleigh. It was life changing for her. The school had implemented a program called The Leader In Me™, which is based on the #1 Best Selling book by Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The idea that kids are much more than a test score had a profound effect on Kreamer.
Returning to work, Becky was on a mission; to give the children of Acadiana access to this wonderful program that would allow them to realize their worth and potential. She wanted the kids to know that someone believed in them, so they could believe in themselves—much like her personal experience with Superintendent Lemoine.
To gain interest and support in the Leader In Me™ program, Kreamer began speaking with and giving copies of the book to educators and community leaders. There was interest, but no one was ready to jump on board in their classrooms. Then, one morning at Red Lerille's Health & Racquet Club, Becky met up with friend and colleague Kimberly Cummins, who was the principal at Martin Petitjean Elementary School in Acadia Parish. She gave Cummins a copy of the book and asked if she’d share it with others for their feedback. Intrigued with the material, Cummins shared the book with some of her teachers who also became interested in this new way of thinking and being. This common interest and conviction to the program set in motion the first school wide implementation in Acadiana of The Leader in Me™. Soon, many other schools would follow suit and at present, there are approximately 35 schools in the Acadiana area utilizing the award winning program.
Becky has lived her whole life playing the hand she’s been dealt, making the best of it and choosing the path that isn’t always easy, but right for her. No longer employed by LPSS, Kreamer is the President of REBACON, Inc., which focuses on supervisory roles and consulting. She has worked on countless special projects and been certified in numerous Franklin Covey course offerings and is an instructor at ULL Continuing Education. She spends the majority of her time facilitating the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People trainings and The Leader In Me™ trainings for Franklin Covey, training educators and businesses with the Leader in Me™ principles.
“Anyone can do this. You first learn to become a leader of yourself and then you can lead others,” she says with a glow in her eyes and a bright beautiful smile. Although the general consensus credits Kreamer for bringing The Leader in Me™ program to Acadiana, she modestly refuses the recognition, saying, “The teachers are the reason for brightening the lives of the children of this community, they deserve the credit. I just planted the seed.”
Now at 52, Becky is the mother of four children, ages 6-17, a wife of 22 years and a major component in The Leader in Me program. She is a prime example of how the 7 habits will allow you to meet your full potential. Beautiful inside and out, she brings encouragement and hope to everyone she meets. This down to earth woman immediately puts you at ease with her openness and warmth, reminding everyone, “You can’t change your past, but you can change your future. It’s never too late—you can start now, at any age. It begins with your thinking.”
What friends and colleagues say about Becky Kreamer:
“She infuses the joy of living through her energetic teaching style and captures her audience with her commitment and thirst for lifelong learning. Her friendship endures and she makes you feel you are the most important person in her life—even when you may be just an acquaintance. I am thankful Becky is in my life. She makes me laugh, she makes me think outside the box and she never limits me. She encourages me to achieve my vision, and that is what a great teacher does!”
Babs J. Dees, Program Developer
Department of Continuing Education
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
“The future of our community relies on our children. They are the leaders of tomorrow. Through Becky’s influence, students have an increased opportunity to be college and career ready through the leadership skills that have been embedded in the curriculum and culture of our schools.”
Anne Herrmann, Principal
Plantation Elementary School
“I very much admire her ability to manage the many components of her life so incredibly effectively. Very few people can meet the needs of all areas of their lives as she does.”
Kimberly Cummins, Principal
Martin Petitjean Elementary School
“When I reflect on her gifts, I am in awe of her ability to perceive. She has great intuition and empathy. This makes her a great listener and coach as she understands deeply. She sees and feels the emotions behind the words of others. By doing so, she helps people to unlock their own potential and to be the best version of themselves. This is a rare talent, but she possesses it in such a beautiful way. This makes her a leader that people will both seek and follow.”
Margaret H. Trahan, President/CEO
United Way of Acadiana