If it hadn’t been for the 1995 Newspaper Guild strike in Detroit, Tonya Whitehorn might have kept to her career plan to become a newspaper reporter.
As it was, she has spent the last 15 plus years teaching in Ann Arbor Public Schools, and is now an English teacher at Skyline High School as well as a Rising Scholars Program coordinator.
Tonya Whitehorn says she enjoyed a wonderful childhood growing up on Detroit’s west side. Her parents instilled a strong work ethic in their children, all of whom attended Detroit Public schools and Michigan colleges.
After graduating from Frank Cody High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism during the newspaper strike that forced her to rethink her career. Whitehorn then earned a master’s degree in teaching from Wayne State University.
What made you decide to become a teacher? I have always loved learning and working with young people. The storytelling techniques that I learned as a reporter are used in the classroom to make instruction more authentic for students.
What keeps you motivated? My motivation comes from within. I am deeply grounded, and I enjoy teaching.
How would you characterize your teaching style? My teaching style varies from hour to hour, depending on the energy and personalities of the children. One thing that is consistent is that I love to laugh. I try to make the environment welcoming in the classroom.
What is the most rewarding part about teaching? The most rewarding part of teaching comes from when my students are able to demonstrate what they know and connect what is being taught to their own lives.
What are your biggest challenges? My biggest challenge is time.
What would you change about the profession if you could? How much space do I have? The thing that I would change most about teaching is, I would like to see more educators creating policies at the state and federal level.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a teacher? I would tell them that teaching is a gift, and a privilege; use both wisely.
If you weren’t teaching, what would you be doing, and how do you think that would affect your life? If I were not teaching, I would be reporting. The life of a reporter is a lot different. There are no set schedules really, most people hate to see you coming, and you bear witness to some of society’s greatest triumphs and failures.
What do you wish people knew about the teaching profession? I wish that most people would understand that we want all children to succeed and do their person best.
As a Rising Scholars Program coordinator, what do you most want people to know about the program? I would like people to know that the Rising Scholars program gives support to students who are under represented in Advanced Placement and Accelerated courses.
What do you think is unique about being an AAPS teacher? Being an Ann Arbor teacher is unique. One of the things that stand out to me is that new ideas of how instruction is delivered are welcomed and explored.
– Jo Mathis
AAPS District News