Alumni in Focus – December 2018
Dr. Fatimah King
What are you up to these days? Tell us about your accomplishments since leaving Community School.
I started my journey after high school at Virginia Western, where I studied Accounting and Business. I earned an Associate’s degree and then went on to Bluefield College where I studied Strategic Leadership. After getting my Bachelor’s, I worked for Advance Auto Parts for ten years as a supervisor. Now I am the Training Specialist for the Roanoke Policy Academy – the only civilian at the academy. Soon after I started working at the academy, I was accepted into a Ph.D. program at the University of Charleston. Working full time and going to school was hard, but I grew to love the work load. Some people call me a workaholic, but I just like to get up at 3:30 in the morning, get my workout in, and have a productive day! I have always been drawn to leadership. I think it’s important for people to have a good leader, to have someone to look up to. I have had a lot of good leaders throughout my life, people I’ve looked up to – family members and teachers – and they were such a big impact on me. I want to be able to fill that need for others and help them along their way.
How do you feel that your time at CS influenced or prepared you for your academic and/or career path going forward?
I have so many memories of Community School. The school only went through 6th grade. We still called it the Boxwoods back then, but the classes had nature names, like Sky, Pebble, and Earth. Sky was the oldest class. My grandmother enrolled me at the school because she thought it would be a good experience for me. I was eventually pulled and put in public school, but I had a hard time adjusting to the expectations there. Even the public school teachers said it wasn’t the right fit for me, so I was reenrolled at Community School. A lot of children can’t adapt to public school. Having that contrasting experience of seeing both schools and then later a Christian private school, made me understand Community School even better. Especially now as an adult, I can articulate the differences better. Community School values experiences for its students, and the diverse experiences the school gave me had a big impact on my life. We lived a predominantly Black neighborhood, but there weren’t many African-American students at Community School, so coming to school and interacting with my friends there gave me a different environment than I had at home or on the weekends. The school week and the weekend carried different mindsets, which taught me how to learn from different perspectives and to be open to diverse experiences. Now, in my professional career, I am able to adapt and talk in different situations. That is probably the single most influential thing I gained from my time at Community School. It became my foundation, and now plays a big part in my career where I am tasked with a lot of interpersonal responsibilities. Whether it’s talking to officers or civilians, I am engaged in customer service and communication. It’s the same reason I bring my grandson to Strawberry Festival every year, because it’s different and I want him to experience that.
Do you have any additional reflections or thoughts on Community School?
I remember the focus on team building that the teachers had at Community School. We did things like ropes courses, other physical or outdoor activities, and team building experiences that really had an impact on me. It was those types of activities and the openness to diverse experiences that gave me the foundation for my life. In short, Community School taught me how to relate to my surroundings and adapt to them.
Dr. King has more than 15 years of experience in the field of leadership, training and development, and business management.
She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Strategic Leadership from Bluefield College, a Master of Science (M.S.) in Organizational Leadership from Mountain State University, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Executive Leadership from the University of Charleston.
In 2012, she received her Department of Criminal Justice General Instructor and was also presented with the first-ever Civilian of the Year Award by the Roanoke Police Department.
In addition to working at Roanoke Police Academy, Dr. King has been an instructor for Court Community Corrections since 2013. She educates and provides participants with the skills and knowledge necessary for the recovery process of drug and alcohol addictions. Dr. King recognizes that establishing a team-oriented environment and strong communications skills among employees and peers to be one of the major assets of her success with her employment. She extensively utilizes her leadership skills to encourage students and employees to grow and excel within their current position.
Dr. King was born in Roanoke, where she now resides with her husband, Sgt. Gayle Combs of the Roanoke Police Department. She has a daughter, Tiyana; a stepson, Nazir; and a grandson, Taj.