Tanya Crump Builds Strong Readers and Lifelong Learners in JK

Meet Tanya Crump, one of Hutchison's junior kindergarten teachers. She is a dynamic, creative teacher who brings her students' dreams to life in the classroom, from learning about running a business to hatching baby chicks.
Editor's Note: Answers have been shortened and edited for clarity and conciseness.

What do you like about being at Hutchison?

I love the strong community of our staff and students that Hutchison provides. I feel blessed that I am able to work in a friendly environment that supports and values what I do. Most importantly, I am able to be on campus with my daughter each day. I am happy that we are having the Hutchison experience together.  

How do you get the results you want each student to achieve?

I try to make learning fun and create meaningful engagement that my students can relate to. For example, when my class became curious about how businesses work, I helped my girls start a "Christmas tree farm," and they sold their "trees" at a holiday market that they ran with the other JK classes. Last year, we also studied animals that hatch from eggs, and the girls wanted to know more. As a result, JK spent 21 days watching chicken eggs in an incubator. We ended up with seven chicks, and the girls got to see firsthand how chicks develop in eggs, from the importance of keeping them warm to how yolk provides their nutrition.

To help girls remember content, we sing songs, say chants, and do a lot of movements. I am not afraid to be silly, and making memorable moments during instruction ensures that I have the girls' attention and participation.

Describe your career experience and how it led you to Hutchison.

Before I became a teacher, I spent many years in the retail industry as a buyer, store manager, and ultimately a store owner. I loved being in business for myself, but I always had the desire to be a teacher. At the age of 30, I decided to return to school and I graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in education. My first teaching job was teaching kindergarten in Sydney, Australia. My experience was very similar to our early childhood program here at Hutchison. After returning to Memphis, I taught first and third grades with Memphis City Schools for several years. After leaving MCS, I taught under the leadership of Ms. Elizabeth Jordan at Emmanuel United Methodist Preschool before coming to Hutchison. 

What motivated you to become a teacher?

I have always enjoyed learning new things no matter the content area. Being a teacher allows me to spread that knowledge. It is an amazing feeling to share information with a child. I love watching them make connections and gain understanding. 

Why did you choose to teach at Hutchison?

My mother-in-law, Ann Marie Crump, worked at Hutchison for over 40 years, so I was familiar with all the wonderful things happening on campus. Anytime we were out in public with my mother-in-law, when we encountered Hutchison girls, they never hesitated to come speak to her. From those brief conversations, it was easy for me to see the confidence that Hutchison instills in its students and the sense of community it fosters. I wanted this experience for my daughter and it worked out that she and I could begin at Hutchison together.

What is your favorite concept and/or lesson to teach?

I truly enjoy teaching the girls to read. Reading is the most important concept they will ever need to learn. It is so rewarding knowing that I am able to start them on their journey.

What are your favorite moments with a student?

Seeing the girls light up when they realize they are beginning to read is incredible.  Many girls come to JK unable to write or identify any words other than their names. Generally by the second semester, the girls are able to read several sight words and decode short words, and they have learned how to formulate and write a sentence. It makes me so proud to see their growth throughout the year.

How do you keep current with early childhood education and apply the latest learning research?

I read blogs and other forms of social media along with participating in professional development at school to keep on top of education trends. During the summer of 2022, I completed a three-week training with SMILA (Simultaneous Multisensory Institute of Language Arts). SMILA is a research-based, structured, and multisensory approach designed to help teach children reading, speaking, listening, writing, and thinking skills.

What do you want a student to learn from having known you?

I hope my students will have learned from our time together that they are loved, valued, and accepted for who they are. I hope they know they will always have me as a supporter.

What interests you outside the classroom? What are you personally passionate about?

I’m always looking to challenge myself and learn new things. I believe it is important to try anything I have an interest in, whether it be musical lessons, trying a new sport, tackling a home project, or traveling somewhere new.  Having these experiences inspires me to look at my life from a different perspective and helps me to grow. 
Share a fun fact your students might not know about you that they might find interesting.

I have hiked to the top of the Continental Divide, I have been snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, and I enjoy doing home DIY projects.

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