Selbyville Middle School teacher loves being a RAD ‘mom’

Date Published: 
May 9, 2014

Tanya Evans always keeps an eye on her sixth-grade students, in the classroom and in the hall at Selbyville Middle School. She’s teaching them to be better learners and better people. As students gain more freedom in middle school, Evans watches to ensure they’re growing in a positive way. She also keeps an open ear in the RAD (Ready And Determined) team hallway, where she teaches English language arts.

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Just a few years after joining the Selbyville Middle School staff, Tanya Evans is leading the way by writing curriculum, looking out for her students and, most recently, winning SMS?Teacher of the Year.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Just a few years after joining the Selbyville Middle School staff, Tanya Evans is leading the way by writing curriculum, looking out for her students and, most recently, winning SMS?Teacher of the Year.“You can tell who’s mean, who’s not, who’s shy… I plant myself in everyone’s conversation and call ’em out” when they’re being mean,” Evans said.

For example, she saw when friendly teasing became hurtful because a student’s smile began to crumble.

“Look at his face,” she told the others, showing them the consequence of being mean.

“She loves her kids,” said principal Mike King, whose own son is in Evans’ class. “She’s nurturing when she needs to be and holds her ground when necessary, as well.”

Ready for a change in scenery, Evans followed her own boys to middle school two years ago. She had taught at John M. Clayton Elementary School, formerly Frankford Elemenary School, for 14 years, and was the school’s 2002-2003 Teacher of the Year. Working for the Indian River School District is like coming home anyway, she said.

“I’m an Indian,” she said of the school mascot, having attended Frankford Elementary as a child. “I love the middle school setting,” where students and staff interact with more people during the day,” she added.

Parents appreciate that she stays in touch, contacting them “when a child is not acting the way they normally do,” said Evans.

When one boy was particularly quiet and withdrawn, she called home to let his family know, and they were able to get through it together.

Evans had “a very structured upbringing,” which translates into her teaching.

“I’m always watching. I’m always looking out for you. I always care,” she said. She’ll praise or correct students as needed.

“That’s why I’m the ‘mom,’” among a teaching team of “dads” and an “aunt.”

Structure means that students always know what to expect in class.

“Every morning, it’s a warm-up. Grab your journals. So if I’m not there, they can run the classroom.” If a substitute doesn’t understand classroom technology, “That’s OK. My students do.

“I love the students in general, just the personalities,” she said. Like many teachers, Evans delights to see the “A-ha! I got it!” moment. “You know they got in, and you taught it. I like that.”

She’s also active on the district curriculum writing team, which means implementing Common Core standards. King said it’s nice to have a Selbyville voice on the English team.

“She’s very well versed in Common Core and instructional shifts,” King said.

“I don’t like to not be in the loop. I like to know what’s coming,” Evans said. “Education is always changing. There are always new initiatives.”

“You have to look at the [standardized state] test and see what lingo they use.” Are students going to be asked about a story character’s perspective or point-of-view? Students have to know it’s basically the same thing.

“If you don’t teach the language,” they don’t know how to answer the question, Evans said.

She also tutors students after school, Monday to Wednesday, helping students prepare.

“She’s just very hard-working,” King said. “She’s very driven, with high expectations not only of her students, but herself.”

Evans has a bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University, a master’s degree from Delaware State University and a certification in administration. She first began student-teaching with another SMS teacher, Cheryl Truitt, who motivated her to realize “I can do it.”

Evans now lights up to talk about the other teachers in the RADs hallway.

She thanked “my team believing in me. They embraced me and made me feel like this was home.”

She also thanked others who nominated her as Teacher of the Year. “I’m grateful, glad that what they saw in me must be positive.”

“How can you get more than being an exceptional teacher?” King said. “She does what she needs to do to make sure the kids have opportunity to be successful. … We’re very proud. I think she’ll represent Selbyville very well.”