I tried to remember the first time I met Tina. I was told I was so mad upon her arrival that
I held my breath until I passed out. If that’s the case, I guess I’ve been a drama queen since 14 months of age. Tina and I are nearly Irish twins yet she relishes that I’m the “older sister”. Actually, I love being the big sis to her and our younger sister Amanda and on this Mother’s Day and the end of National Teacher Appreciation Week, I knew I had to make a splash about my mermaid teacher/sister Tina.
When we were younger I was the one who wanted to be the teacher but as I grew older I realized it was just because I liked to be the one at the head of the class holding the chalk, i.e. the “power” and attention. No, Tina is the teacher of the family and got an early childhood education degree followed by certification as a special ed teacher, specifically working with emotionally disturbed kids and I know she goes through a lot of stress and paperwork but she loves those kids and her job.
In addition to being a teacher and mom, she runs half marathons lickety-split and she’s always up for a Starbucks run with me (the only kind of running I do.) I can also count on her to join me in adventures like two years ago when we hiked 8 miles at Black Mesa, the tallest point in Oklahoma. And in two weeks our families are going camping together in Eureka Springs. I’m so thankful to have her in my life and to get to introduce you to her today.
ML: Tina, tell us about the moment you made the deep dive for your dream in helping kids with special needs and some of your successes you are most proud of from over the years.
TR: This is my 20th year in education! After 2 years teaching at Head Start, I taught regular 4th and 5th grade for 10 years. This is my 8th year in special education. I teach 2nd to 5th graders, but I have had early childhood and even high school kids on my caseload. I teach mainly reading, math, and written language. My students’ needs range from developmentally delayed, specific learning disability, intellectually disabled, hearing and vision impaired, to some of my most special and challenging kids with an emotional or behavioral disability. I spend the most time with my ED and BD kids, so therefore I become closest to them.
I would say that my most proud moments and successes are when my students learn something new, cope with stresses, overcome triggers, and develop social skills. I follow Love and Logic practices, which is effective with all children. There will always be those few that need in patient care before public ed. is appropriate, but we give every child a chance to succeed and each one makes an impact on my life.
On a personal note, my two teenage sons, Joshua and Jacob, make me incredibly proud. Both boys are so smart, take schoolwork seriously, have part time jobs in construction, and are kind to each other and me. That says a lot!
ML: Tina, what always brings a smile to your face?
TR: My husband doing dishes makes me smile. Lol. My love language is acts of service, and he speaks that really well! Quality time with my boys makes me incredibly happy, because teen boys are struggling to be independent from their parents, especially Mom, so any time I do get is valued immensely. One of my loves is running, so I have to put running outside with my husband, Doug, and my running friends, as an all time favorite of mine!
ML: What’s been the biggest challenge in your life what did/do you overcome adversity?
TR: The biggest challenge for me to overcome was my shyness and insecurities as a youth. In grade school and middle school I was painfully shy and insecure, and I struggled with self-confidence through out my adolescence. But with each achievement in college and then professionally as a teacher, my self-esteem has grown. I recognize the difference I make in the lives of my students who have worse situations and adversities than I’ve had, I delight in seeing my own children work through similar middle school issues with strength and courage, and I enjoy the love and support from my colleagues, friends, and family.
I overcome adversity by reaching out to people and asking for wisdom and guidance. There are things I could not have managed to get through without the love, encouragement, knowledge of others, and my determination and belief that this too shall pass.
ML: I’m so thrilled not only that we got to grow up together and still journey through the good and tough times together. I love that we both resonated so much with Eckhart Tolle and his teachings. What are your favorite tool(s) for enlightened living (presence, intention, action)?
TR: I begin each day with an Inspirational Bible Verse and coffee, sometimes after a good run with some friends. I am a realist, and I sometimes feel hopeless about a situation with a student, but as soon as I walk into my classroom I am revived and motivated to make it an amazing day. I greet whomever walks into my classroom and my home with a friendly Hello! I am happy to see each and every student, guest, and family member who enters. I want to know how everyone is doing, and to keep relationships in my life positive.
I am deliberate in what I eat, and try to be present while eating. This is a new discipline for me, because as a young lady I struggled with poor eating and body image. It feels terrific to love and respect my body as it is, and just want to keep it healthy! Aging isn’t fun, but maturing and gaining wisdom I can pass on to the younger generation makes it all worth it!