The co-CEO of Archie Comics, a former elementary school art teacher, knows from personal experience that comics should be a tool in a teacher’s toolbox.
When I became the co-CEO of Archie Comics five years ago, I had never read a comic book. I was an elementary school art teacher with a deeply buried secret: I was held back in 1st grade because I couldn’t read.
I had become the co-CEO of Archie Comics after my husband and his longtime partner both passed away within seven months of one another, leaving Archie Comics with no leader and no succession plan in place. At that time, my sole interest was to continue Archie Comics into a third generation to honor the family legacy of partnership. Since Archie Comics needed a leader, I stepped out of the classroom and into the boardroom.
Today, I wonder if I would have made a different decision if I had focused on my lack of business experience, my nonexistent formal business training, or the unknown. Instead, I told myself that chief executive officers come with different areas of expertise. What was my expertise? Education. Who was our target market? The eight-year-old girl. Well, I could identify with her.
I vividly remember the day I was to enter 2nd grade. As I walked to school with my mother, I was looking pretty in the yellow dress with white polka dots I had chosen. I had polished my white patent leather shoes with Vaseline the night before in anticipation of the first day.
But after school, it was a different story. I walked home kicking the dirt on the side of the sidewalk. The shoes no longer looked shiny, and I thought of the beautiful dress I wore as a bad luck dress. What had happened? That morning, before I was to step into 2nd grade, my mother stopped me at the kindergarten playground and told me that I was not entering 2nd grade but repeating another year of 1st grade.
“You’ve been left back because you can’t read,” she said.
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