“I think this spot has been my calling.”
Tanya Marvel has held several positions in the Indian River School District, but this year she returned to the George Washington Carver Academy, where she was named Teacher of the Year.
“This really has felt like home,” she said of the intensive learning center.
Marvel teaches all subjects in her classroom, which currently has seven students in the first, fourth and fifth grades. Each student has an individualized curriculum that covers academic, behavioral and emotional needs.
Because of their diverse educational needs, all students have different paces, assignments and projects. Marvel often teaches one-on-one, with support from a para-educator. Marvel explained that only science and social studies are taught in a group.
“We have a great group, a very diverse group in here,” said Marvel.
An Indian River High School graduate, Marvel attended Wilmington University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and two master’s degrees, in primary education and special education.
Marvel began teaching nine years ago. She recently served two years as special education coordinator and one year in regular education. However, Marvel said she did not find her niche there, so she returned to the Carver Academy.
“I really feel like this is where I belong,” Marvel said. “You give them some love and … guidance, and you try to help them the best you can. And you really see the fruits of your labor.”
Marvel said the best part of teaching is when students grasp and use new skills in the classroom and community.
“That’s why I come – just to make that difference with the students and families,” said Marvel.
“This year, I have a really great group of parents,” said Marvel. “We love that parental support.”
Marvel is now a three-time recipient of Teacher of the Year honors at the Carver School. She called it a privilege to be “recognized for the betterment of the kids.
“It definitely is an honor,” she said. “I work with an amazing group of colleagues. And any one of us would make a great Teacher of the Year.”
The Carver school has a small and close-knit staff, Marvel emphasized, citing the “superb leadership” of Assistant Principal Walt Smith.
When not in school, Marvel is at home or traveling with her family, including her daughter and twin toddlers.
Marvel this week recalled a phrase she said she first heard in college: “Every expert was once a beginner.” She said she applies this to her students, who also learn teamwork, respect and interaction.
“They leave here as experts about themselves.”