Moffat County’s littlest students loved by their teacher
Editors Note: This is the latest installment in our series of interviews with Moffat County educators.
CRAIG — Moffat County Preschool Teacher Toni Tuttle loves her job.
Born and raised in Craig, she graduated from Moffat County High School, and while in independent study at St. Marks Preschool, with Rosemary Crosswaite, Tuttle learned she wanted to work with and teach preschoolers.
“It was there that I found what I wanted to do the rest of my life,” she said. “I absolutely loved every day with them.”
That love has not waned.
Craig Press caught up with Tuttle to learn about her influences as an educator and her philosophy toward teaching.
Craig Press: What are the most important things we should know about you, your life and your experiences?
Toni Tuttle: The most important thing I think you should know about me is that I love working with and teaching preschool-aged children. I love watching them grow and learn every day at preschool. Watching them grow is the most amazing and fulfilling thing I have ever done, and I am so blessed to be able to still do it. I love every day I get to spend with them, growing their little minds, while teaching them respect for themselves and others.
CP: Who most influenced you to become an educator, and how did that person influence you?
Tuttle: Rosemary Crostwaite, to this day, is the person I look up to and respect the most, beyond words. She is the most patient, giving and kind person I have ever known, and I feel like we share the same love and respect for young children. She is the reason I am where I am today.
CP: What methods of teaching do you use to present material to your students?
Tuttle: While in college, I got to learn about children and why they do what they do. I found that teaching children was easy, once you made sure they feel comfortable in their environment and confident in themselves. I believe, too, that preschoolers don’t learn by lecturing and lots of sitting. I believe children learn best when they are playing. They don’t even know they are learning. It’s so cool. As a teacher, I just make sure those experiences are there for them and when they are developmentally ready they learn it. It truly is the most amazing thing to watch; I put it out there and they grab it. I love it.
CP: If your greatest supporter were in the room with us today, what five words would he or she use to describe you as a person, a teacher or a colleague?
Tuttle: I feel my greatest supporter would say that I’m a positive and loving person. They would also say I love children. I’m kind, and I’m very patient (especially with small children).
CP: What is the most challenging part of your role as an educator, and how have you met that challenge?
Tuttle: I feel the most challenging role as an educator is the children we teach in this day and age are struggling with life. It’s really painful when children need the stability, consistency and love they get at school to make it through the days. Some of the children we see now are really struggling, because this is a hard life, and not all parents are able to keep it out of the eyes of their children. We have many children who aren’t coming to school ready to learn, because they are still thinking about their home life.
I have found that children sometimes get a raw deal, because they don’t learn the way others do. Every child is smart; it’s just figuring out how to get the information across to them differently. Children are so, so intelligent. No one gives them enough credit.
CP: How are you involved in the community outside school?
Tuttle: I try very hard to help out whenever or wherever in my community when it’s needed. My youngest is a hockey player, and so I am helping out the team and the parents. Our team just did a hockey appreciation for the veterans.
CP: If a visitor came to your classroom/office and took a photo, what would they see in that photo?
Tuttle: If a visitor came to my classroom, they would see healthy, happy children playing and exploring to their fullest ability. I also think they would see a teacher that is fostering and nurturing the children’s learning.
CP: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Tuttle: The thing I would like readers to know is, I try hard to make a difference in every child’s life I touch. Sometimes, it’s small; other times, it’s big. It makes me so happy when I see children and they still remember me, even though they are older, sometimes much older. Often, when I’m visiting the high school, former students seek me out, and they still call me “Ms. Toni.”
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.