Mill Creek honors Thorpe as Teacher of the Year
MADISON – Tammy Thorpe is Teacher of the Year at Mill Creek Elementary School.
She teaches fourth-grade math and science and has instructed all subject areas for grades 4-6. She serves on the district’s Math Leadership Team.
“I work really hard to build strong relationships with my students,” Thorpe said. “Those relationships are absolutely essential … to positively affect their lives and have an everlasting impact. That is what’s important to me.”
Long ago, Thorpe realized education’s importance from Terry, a fifth-grade boy. Over the school year, his low self-esteem grew into newfound confidence.
At year’s end, Terry said, “Mrs. Thorpe, I have something special for you. It’s one of my favorite things. Thorpe declined the gift; she knew Terry lived in a single-parent home and his mother was unemployed.
However, Terry insisted. “He reached inside a paper bag and pulled out a worn, dirty stuffed brown bear. ‘Mrs. Thorpe,’ he said, ‘this bear is important to me. I can hold on to it, and it’s always there for me.'”
Thorpe realized that “school is the ‘bear to hold’ for many students.”
Today, Terry is a successful husband, father and businessman in Chicago. “Terry calls me once a year to thank me … and ask who the ‘special bear student’ is each year.”
For Thorpe, teaching’s most rewarding aspect is “knowing that I helped a child succeed when they were struggling, whether that struggle was academically, emotionally or socially. I love it when former students who are now grown make that phone call or come back and visit to say, ‘Thank you.'”
However, “there are bound to be challenges,” Thorpe said. One difficult aspect today is the focus on standards. “While standards are important, I feel there’s too much emphasis in the drive for accountability.”
Thorpe earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Troy University. She has taught for 25 years in Alabama in Eufaula, Pike County and at Heritage and Mill Creek elementary schools.
Her husband Taron Thorpe is vice president at Bancorp South. Their daughter Alex is a junior math major at Troy University. Daughter Libby will enter James Clemens High School in August.