VIDEO — Teacher of the Month Tiffany May builds education through genuine relationships

Published 12:20 am Friday, January 26, 2024

Tiffany May’s fourth grade students made some noise Thursday when they learned their teacher was chosen as Teacher of the Month, sponsored by Philpott Motors.

The Tyrrell Elementary School teacher easily interacted with her students, whose excitement went to a fever pitch when they learned she was the recipient of a $500 gift card and a chance to be in a drawing for Teacher of the Year that comes with a $1,000 gift card.

“I always make sure I develop a relationship with my kids, that’s first and foremost. That’s important. They already know,” Mays said.

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After rounds of photos were taken and May had a chance to catch her breath away from the class, she became emotional when asked what this honor means to her.

“This is definitely a calling for me. My kids know how I am with them,” May said, adding she is breaking generational curses on both sides of the family.

The devoted educator does more than teach fourth grade. She has been a State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness math teacher at Tyrrell for eight years and maintained perfect attendance for four years.

“She has a great rapport with our students and their parents,” Assistant Principal Dwight Wagner said.

“She participates every year in after-school tutorials, she volunteers for all extracurricular activities and after school programs, and she assists with our cheer squad and our boys and girls basketball teams.”

Tyrrell School Assistant Principal Dwight Wagner, left, Candace Hemelt with Port Arthur Newsmedia, Teacher of the Month Tiffany May and Daren Granger with Philpott Motors. (Mary Meaux/The News)

She also volunteers for extra activities or programs involving the students.

“We love and appreciate Ms. May for her continued service to the students,” Wagner said.

May learned early on the importance of establishing a relationship with the students and how it positively impacts their education.

She started her career at Wheatley School of Early Childhood Programs, which is also in Port Arthur Independent School District campus, because she had a child in that school. Then she moved up to teaching first grade under then-principal Dr. Mattie Londow.

The key to students’ success was evident in their excited response when they learned she was the award recipient.

“I don’t want to address them as 23 or 24 kids. I make sure I build my relationship,” May said. “You have to know all of the kids. That’s one of the things I learned at Wheatley.”

During those first few weeks is a chance to develop a routine and procedures in the classroom, but she’s also using that time to genuinely get to know the students, she said, with emphasis on “genuinely.”

“And once you do that, you’re opening the door for them to learn,” she said.

By knowing her students she finds which teaching methods work for each individual. That might mean letting them have a moment where they need to talk about how their day is going — that’s the foundation.