Teacher's Gift

Graduating senior relishes the opportunity to help at-risk children thrive

by Jeff Samoray, Published April 17, 2013

LaToya Tingle of Detroit recalls an experience she had as an elementary school student that made a profound impact on her life-and will soon affect the lives of future students.

"My teacher would give us a packet of work to complete in a week," says Tingle, who will graduate this month with a degree in Elementary Education - Early Childhood Education with a special needs endorsement for pre-school. "I'd dive into the work, finish it in the first day or two, and turn it in ahead of the rest of the class. But instead of helping me grow as a student, the teacher just had me color the rest of the week. That's not the kind of teacher I want to be. I want to constantly challenge my students to go further in their learning."

As a young child, Tingle says she savored every learning opportunity-from reading voraciously to listening to her grandfather's stories about his life experiences. Now, as a student teacher, she's instilling a passion for learning in pre-school students at the Perry Child Development Center in Ypsilanti. Tingle also works on campus at the Children's Institute. After graduating, she plans on pursuing a teaching job in Detroit to provide at-risk children with the learning and growth opportunities all children deserve.

"Earning a teaching degree has always been a no-brainer for me," she says. "My Eastern professors have been a great source of inspiration. They're very passionate about teaching and have given me phenomenal support."

Karen Paciorek, professor and program coordinator of the Early Childhood Education program at Eastern, says Tingle's immediate enthusiasm and dedication to teaching helped her rise to the top of her class.

"LaToya has an innate ability to connect with children-she has a massive smile and is very engaging," Paciorek says. "She also understands the impact education can have on a young child's life and is a strong advocate for the importance of educating children with special needs.

"LaToya is the kind of teacher we all wish we had when we were young students. Every child should have a teacher like her."

In April, the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children selected Tingle for its Student Leadership Award for 2012. She received the award during the association's Early Childhood Conference in Grand Rapids.

"I was so excited and proud to receive the award," she says. "I didn't expect it, because I know there are so many great up-and-coming teachers out there.

"Earning my teaching degree is like winning the lottery-I feel like I can do anything. I can't wait to cross the stage and accept my diploma. Then I'll officially be a teacher, which makes me ecstatic. I want to reach as many children as I can and help them thrive."

Spring Commencement will be held on April 28 at the Convocation Center. The morning ceremony is held at 9:30 a.m. for the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Technology. The afternoon ceremony is held at 2 p.m. for the College of Business, College of Education, and College of Health and Human Services. For further information, please visit the Commencement Spring 2013 web page.

Geoff Larcom



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