Teaching a room full of 3-year olds is challenging on many levels, and one of Dallas ISD’s best is rising to the challenge every day.
Tara Broadus, a preK teacher at J. J. Rhoads Learning Center, was recently named Dallas ISD’s 2015 Teacher of the Year in the Elementary Category.
Her career as a teacher is rooted in a family full of educators, including her father, grandmother and aunts and uncles. Her mother worked in adult education as well. But the 1989 gradate of Lincoln High School didn’t immediately choose that path in college.
“My initial major was journalism,” she said. “Even though I like to write a lot, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to make that a career. So I kind of toyed with some ideas of things I really liked to do. What I kept finding was that I really liked to work with children.”
She went back to school as an adult, and was inspired by her own family. Often, her daughters would travel with her to and from college classes.
“I know my oldest daughter especially was watching me. And she would ask me about things I was doing in class, just like I would ask her about her school day,” Broadus said. “That was a big part of my motivation, my daughters and my husband.”
In teaching prekindergartners, Broadus said one challenge is to make sure children are doing the work and staying attentive, often in a short timeframe. She created a rotation schedule that has students working with the teacher’s assistance, working with her and then doing independent study. Every day, she said, students work on math and language arts.
Among her hobbies are writing and dancing – but the latter is not simply a hobby. During her first year of teaching, her youngest daughter, Olivia, passed away suddenly. That happened after Olivia had completed her first year of dance lessons.
“I felt it was my responsibility and an honor to continue dancing on her behalf,” she said.
Another pursuit is her doctoral degree, and after considering how she could use her studies to make her school better, she chose parental involvement.
“So it naturally carries over into the things I do with my parents now,” she said. That includes regularly communicating with parents and finding ways for them to participate at school.