Last year at this time, I was standing on this stage trying to figure out how I came to be in the company of such a stellar group of Louisiana educators, never mind being named Teacher of the Year. In spite of being so clueless, I took the title with a deep sense of responsibility. I did have the presence of mind to know one thing - that I wanted to represent well all of the remarkable teachers in my state, many who had a strong impact on my life and my teaching. I just never realized how the coming year would change my life forever.
I participated in many roundtable discussions with my colleagues and it was at one of these sessions where I was able to talk about just how progressive our state truly is. I was so proud to represent all of the dedicated, hardworking teachers of Louisiana at that conference.
My year started at my home school, where my colleagues and students made me feel so special. My students would arrive at my door and see all of the signs made for me and the congratulations just never seemed to end. But one event was profound. After the first two weeks of school had passed, one of my freshmen came up to me and said, “Mrs. Tonguis, you are the BEST teacher I’ve ever had.” Now I know I was certainly NOT the best teacher he had ever had. It was the title that made his expectations rise to the point of a self-fulfilled prophecy.
Debbie Tonguis Strategic Futuring with Audio
Deborah Hohn Tonguis New Orleans, Louisiana
…because all I ever wanted to be was a junior high classroom TEACHER.
I was seeking a Master of Arts degree…but I got a lot more than just an education.
For the first time in my life… “Discovering who you are is the only JOB you have… and GOD will find a way to pay you to be YOURSELF.” ~Ray Rood…someone asked me to envision my future.
I was asked to see my life…1985 1995 2005 2015 2025 2035 2045 …one decade at a time.
What I saw clarified the course of my career… …and changed my life.
This is what I saw… A move back to Louisiana A marriage to a tall man with light hair 2 children, a girl and a boy A job teaching in higher education A home in a suburban community Opportunities to teach younger students Teacher leadership positions Participation in state level work A published book A doctorate Participation in change on a national level
Did what I see that day come true?See for yourself…
I left California, in spite of 3 job offers there… …and moved back to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Daughter Bethany is born Son Michael is born
I taught Developmental Reading and Writing to provisional freshmen at the University of New Orleans for over 10 wonderful years
I moved out of the city and to a wooded suburb 24 miles north of New Orleans.
I left Higher Ed and began teaching High School Social Sciences Freshman World Geography Senior Psychology
I took on campus leadership positions: Social Studies Department Head Curriculum Design Team Leader Freshman Coordinator New Teacher Mentor Staff Development Program Facilitator Teacher In-Service Workshop Facilitator
I was honored to be named the“2009 Louisiana Teacher of the Year”
I completed my first book…a gift to my fellow state teachers of the year.
I was honored alongside all of the state teachers in the White House Rose Garden by President Obama
I was chosen for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s“Stimulus Package Money for Education” Committee
I participated in meetings with Dr. Jill Biden about National Standards and Standardized Testing.
I participated in the2009 National Forum on Educational Policy
I served on “Race to the Top”Committee Meetings at Princeton University
I began my doctoral program…an Ed.D in Teacher Leadership
How did participating in a single strategic visioning exercise in 1984 allow me to clearly SEE what was before me?
…because someone took the time to ASK ME what I saw in my future.