Congratulations to Kathryn Tighe, 5th Grade Teacher at DJ Montague Elementary School.
Kathryn Tighe was voted Teacher of the Month for February 2017. Mrs. Tighe is accepting her gift card and certificate from School Crossing Owner Sherry Phipps.
Learn more about this Teacher of the Month, by reading her answers below to a series of questions we asked her about herself and teaching. We hope you enjoy reading about another wonderful teacher in our community!
1. How long have you been teaching and teaching at DJ and as a 5th Grade teacher?
This is my sixteenth year teaching and my sixth year at DJ teaching 5th grade. Before teaching in Williamsburg, I taught in Surry.
2. What drew you to teaching, teaching at DJ?
I grew up wanting to be a teacher and went to college to get my degree in education. After college, I joined AmeriCorps and worked with schools and nonprofit groups. From there I spent several years working with national service in Virginia. I provided support and training for lots of education programs throughout the state. After spending so much time working with education from the outside in, I decided it was time to commit to being in the classroom. I taught for 10 years at Surry Elementary School. In the fall of 2011, my son was starting kindergarten in Williamsburg and I wanted to be on the same schedule that he was on so I took a job at DJ teaching 5thgrade.
3. Can you mention a project where you were able to engage the kids outside of the classroom or stories that you heard where they brought their learning home?
I serve as the Science Curriculum Leader at my school. This year I was really excited about doing STEM projects with students. For our Math and Science night, students in grades 3-5 were given three projects to choose from and compete. Their choices were a newspaper table, a ping pong roller coaster, and a balloon powered car. Students had to work on the projects at home and then bring them to school for the competition. It was exciting to hear the kids talk about how they had to try out their designs, make adjustments, and try something else. Students worked with their families on the projects and everyone was excited. Parents and students were working together and learning! It was exciting to hear their enthusiasm.
4. What perspective have you gained from being around 5th grade children all day?
I think that I have learned to stop myself and remember they are kids. It is easy to get caught up in a world of data and testing and reports. Sometimes as I watch them play on the playground or interact with each other, I am reminded that they are just 10-11 years old. They need to be more active during the day; they need time to just be silly; and they need to learn to enjoy learning, not be rushed through it because there is a deadline.
5. What do you want your students to be able to do when they leave your classroom – that you know will prepare them for further education and life in general?.
I want students to be more aware of who they are as learners. They need to be in touch with how they learn best and what they need to do to be successful. Students who begin to take ownership of their learning are able to seek out the things that will help them succeed.
6. If you could ask parents to do one thing to help their children’s academic success what would it be?
I would ask parents to not solve their child’s problems. Kids need to learn how to advocate for themselves. If your child is having a problem, ask them what they think should be done. Talk through strategies to help them and/or encourage them to speak to someone who might be able to implement a solution. Be there to support them, but let them use their own voice to find a way to get past the problem. This works for problems with other kids and academic problems. As adults, we need to help students learn how to problem solve and find solutions. If we are always telling them what to do and fixing things, they don’t learn how to do it on their own.
7. Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you and/or your class that you find you post, read, share or just meditate on?
One of my favorite quotes is by Marion Wright Edelman. She said, “Service is the rent we pay for living. It is the very purpose of life and not just something you do in your spare time.” Service has always been an important part of my life. As a teacher, my service is to my students. I work hard every day to give them the best that I have to offer. I also look for ways to incorporate service in our classroom. The fifth grade students at DJ have participated in several different projects to help out the community from collecting pajamas and canned food, to assembling birthday bags for homeless children and making decorations for local nursing homes. This year, the 4th and 5th grade classes are raising seagrass to be planted in the James River as a part of the Grasses for the Masses program with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
8. Are you from Williamsburg? If not, where are you from, what brought you here?
I am originally from Wisconsin, and I have lived in Mississippi and Alabama. I came to Williamsburg to work as an AmeriCorps member in 1995. While I was here, I met my husband. I left to finish my undergraduate degree in Alabama and returned to Williamsburg to be with him.
10. Do you have any life lessons that the students in your class have taught you – maybe a short story about kindness, sharing or just a 5th Grader’s perspective?
When I first started teaching, I taught a boy in 2nd and 3rd grade. He was always in trouble! His mom and I must have been on the phone every day for those two years. In those conversations I shared what he was doing, but I also added the positive things that he did. At the end of his time with me, his mom wrote me a note. She said that I had taught her to like her son again. She said it was easy to get caught up in the negative because of the behaviors he had, but that I had reminded her of all of his good qualities. I still have her note and I read it often to remind myself that it is important to find the goodness in everyone.
What a wonderful teacher we have in Mrs. Tighe! Thank you to all who voted for her – we are lucky to have her teaching in our community!