When some people set out to complete a goal, there aren't 700 kids looking up to them.
That was the case for Leslie Hardiman, principal at Tierra Del Sol Middle School in Lakeside, and she knew she had to take a lesson from her own book if she wanted to complete her doctoral program.
Hardiman started her program at San Diego State University about five years ago, but it was only supposed to be a two-year program.
"Life got in the way, just becoming a first-year principal and having my daughter in middle school, it just took longer," Hardiman said.
The principal decided to get back to the books in August and finally finish what she started.
"I signed up for the tuition repayment plan," Hardiman explained. "I would make payments once a month and then in the beginning of November I had a small leak in my house."
The small leak turned her home upside down. It forced her to completely demolish both bathrooms right down to the studs.
"I made the first two payments just working and then when that hit you can't live in a house with no bathrooms, so I had to take my tuition money and pay for water abatement and everything else," she said.
Hardiman knew there was a way, and it was one she was very familiar with.
"Persevere, relentlessly. That's the topic we have been working on with our students," she said.
"If that's what I am going to preach on a daily basis to my students then that's what I absolutely need to do so I need to finish," Hardiman continued.
Hardiman found inspiration in the one of the last places you would expect a principal to look: TikTok.
She said a TikTok about hot chocolate bombs changed her life!
Hardiman made the treats for her staff and they were a hit for Thanksgiving.
"I said, You know what? Maybe I can sell hot chocolate bombs for Christmas break," she said.
With just a month to pay off about $2,500 and apply to graduate, Leslie put in a couple of all-nighters and put up posts on Facebook.
"The first week it went great," she recalled. "I said, 'Let's do it the second week and maybe I can get most of my tuition paid.' And that's what happened."
"The entire love and support from the entire San Diego community was amazing,' she said.
Hardiman was able to raise almost all of her tuition and last December she was awarded her doctorate in educational leadership.
The lesson here...
"Persevere relentlessly and try to get around it," Hardiman said. "I have 720 kids that I love dearly. The way I lead my life always has to be the way that I want them to lead theirs."
She plans to sell her special hot chocolate bombs and chocolate-covered Oreos for Valentine's Day this time to hopefully pay off the contractors renovating her bathrooms. Here's a link to her website.