By Bonne Stroman, DTM, Policy & Protocol Chair
I am a Texan by birth and heritage. Growing up in a small South Texas town and surrounded by kinfolks, I spent many an hour listening to tales of family history and our ranching heritage. I attribute my love of storytelling to my long line of ancestors who made history come alive through oral language.
I graduated valedictorian from my hometown, Hebbronville, and attended Trinity University in San Antonio. I completed my bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where I had transferred to be with my husband, who was in the Navy due to the Viet Nam War. I began teaching in Virginia, but the next nine years we spent in Germany, Turkey, and Spain teaching for the Department of Defense. My only son Jeff was born in Germany. Upon our return to the States, I taught for 21 years in Alice, TX, and earned a master’s degree from Texas A&I Kingsville. Sadly, I lost my husband in an accident when Jeff was 10 years old.
I came to Toastmasters because my independent study students had to make a major end-of-the-year presentation. I reached out to Southside Evening Toastmasters in Corpus Christi, TX, and two members came to my school to help students and to show me how I could help the kids. So I came to Toastmasters to become a better evaluator of my students. Becoming a better speaker was just a bonus! My claim to fame in my club was competing at the District Humorous Speech Contest before I had even given my Ice Breaker. When I first joined, I learned that the club was having a contest. I said, ‘Lots of funny things happen to teachers. I can do that!” and I advanced all the way to District, where I was defeated by some truly hilarious speeches.
I moved to North Texas in 2002, the summer my first grandchild was born. My son and his wife live in Bedford and have two children, 16 and 13, who are the joy of my life. I have now worked at Mineral Wells High School for 16 years teaching senior English and dual credit English with Weatherford College.
When I moved to Weatherford, I joined Plus-Two Toastmasters and enjoyed this club for many years. In due time I served as Club Coach, Area Governor, and Training Chair. I was awarded Toastmaster of the Year for my work as Club Coach. I hesitated to run for Lt. Gov. Marketing because I do not consider myself a salesperson, and to me, marketing meant sales. Upon consideration, I realized that I sell education to a bunch of 17-year-olds every day, so I might be better at marketing than I had thought. That year I earned Excellence in Marketing, then served as Lt. Gov. Education, earning Excellence in Education, and as District Governor 2012-2013. I am proud of our District for earning Distinguished status all three years that I served in the leadership trio.
Since my years in top District leadership, I have joined other advanced/specialty clubs, participated in every conference, served as Spring Conference Chair, started a new club in Mineral Wells, and held the roles of District Policy and Protocol Chair and District Parliamentarian. I also became a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians.
I enjoy so many things about Toastmasters. Not only is Toastmasters “Where Leaders Are Made,” but Toastmasters is also “Where Friends Are Made.” I treasure each of my clubs and each friend I have made through this remarkable institution.