Tahlequah Daily Press

February 18, 2014

Tinsley’s family an inspiration for teaching

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Lessons from life on the farm are teaching tools for Greenwood’s newest Teacher of the Year.

Second-grade teacher Kym Tinsley’s family is important. In the summer, she works on Canyon Ridge Farm, owned by her parents.

“I use the experiences from the farm life in my classroom on a daily basis, through writing, reading, and math,” she said.

She has a happy, colorful and friendly classroom. She recently greeted two children at the classroom door with a smile. As she interacted with them, asking questions about a story, they searched for clues and find answers.

Tinsley rewarded each girl with a compliment, based on their answers and asked more questions. The girls searched for answers once more.

For Tinsley, children are definitely the best part of teaching,

“Nothing beats the feeling of knowing you have made a positive difference in the life of a child,” Tinsley said.

To engage a young mind is success for Tinsley.

“When a child asks you a question, that tells you he is listening and wants to know more, or doesn’t quite understand. When their faces light up with that ‘Ah ha!’ glow, that tells you that you have turned on the light for them,” she said. “There isn’t any feeling that compares with those moments.”

Tinsley is constantly surprised by her students.

“I work with young children and they never cease to amaze me,” she said. “They always have something interesting to say, and their minds are always working. It can be challenging at times, but I love the challenge.”

Technology and reading are valuable teaching tools in her classroom.

“I love to read. I also love technology and use it on a daily basis in my classroom. We use iPads, netbooks, and the Mead board to enhance our learning,” she said.

For Teacher of the Year honors, schools in the district select one teacher from each grade level who is nominated by a peer. Their names are put on a ballot and everyone votes for one of the teachers who has been nominated or chosen by grade for an overall winner.

Each school has its own way to announce its Teacher of the Year, and it’s not always done the same way each year. Tinsley found out she’d won during a Greenwood Gorilla Pride assembly.

“I was delighted. It is such an honor to be named Greenwood Teacher of the Year by the teachers you teach with,” she said. “Students and teachers were in attendance, and when they announced the Teacher of the Year for our school, the whole school gave a huge round of applause.”

Tinsley said her family recognized her desire to teach when she was very young.

“My family always knew I wanted to be a teacher. They encouraged me to work hard to achieve my dream, and they still encourage me today,” Tinsley said.

This is her eighth year teaching. She’s taught for two years at Greenwood Elementary in second grade. Prior to joining Tahlequah Public Schools, she taught in Tulsa for Union Public Schools – three years in second grade, two years teaching multiage first and second grade, and one year teaching third grade.

The teachers and staff at Greenwood make it a great place to teach, she said.

“I get to work with amazing teachers who inspire me. Every person in our building brings something unique to the school, and I am inspired on a daily basis,” said Tinsley.

Tinsley said it’s important for aspiring teachers to seek out a mentor.

“Being a new teacher, whether in a new building or brand-new to the profession, you need lots of support and someone to listen to,” she said. “Having a good mentor who will be there for you during the difficult times makes all the difference in the world.”

A child’s success also can be enhanced by the input and interest from their parents and extended family.

“Make time every day to talk with your children about the day’s activities. Let them know you care, and really listen to what they have to say,” Tinsley said.