I was born in Sedalia, MO in 1959 to Robert and Tommie Mitchener.
I attended elementary school and junior high in Jefferson City, MO, where my dad was a career National Guardsman. I loved living in Jefferson City, which was the scene of the Golden Age for the Republicans in Missouri. My family was Republican. Many of my childhood friends were from Republican families, some of them well-known families in Missouri.
We moved back to Ripley County when I was in the 8th grade because my dad sustained a spinal cord injury while serving with the National Guard. He was suddenly paralyzed from the neck down. Both sets of grandparents were from Southeast Missouri, so we moved back there to make life easier for Dad.
Living in Ripley County was a bit of a culture shock compared to Jefferson City. But I graduated in 1978 from Doniphan High School with honors and won a full ride scholarship. I spent my first year of college at Three Rivers Community College, and then went on to complete my bachelor’s degree in Communications at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau where I graduated Summa Cum Laude.
While still a senior in college, I went to work as a newspaper reporter for Gary Rust, who at the time had The Bulletin Journal, and then bought the Southeast Missourian. I really loved my job, but decided to make a switch to education after my first daughter was born. So I went back to school and obtained my Masters Degree in Elementary Education, graduating Cum Laude. I then went to work as an elementary teacher in Cape Girardeau, where I taught for 16 years in various positions that gave me a variety of educational teaching experiences.
That is when my political transition to the Democratic Party started. I soon realized that education suffered every time Republicans took control in Jefferson City.
I left teaching after I divorced, and decided to work in the private sector helping my new husband with his business.
Then I moved back to Ripley County to be closer to my family.