“I love their enthusiasm and their thirst for knowledge. I love their happy-go-lucky personalities. I just want to help them all be their best and become good students and good citizens,” she said.
Her favorite times are when she sees a student who has been struggling with a certain task and their triumph when they finally get it done. “I love seeing the light bulb go on when they realize they can do something. I always tell my students I would never give them something they can’t do.”
Teaching is a career Whitney always knew she wanted, but it almost didn’t happen. She started college at Western Michigan University and completed everything for her teaching degree except student teaching. In those years, she said there was a glut of teachers and not enough jobs for everyone. She worked as a college student at Marianne's, a clothing retail chain of stores. When they offered her a full-time position her last year of college, it was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down.
After 20 years working at the store, the company went into bankruptcy and Whitney lost her job. She returned to her love of children and started a home daycare where a teacher’s spouse encouraged her to finish her teaching degree. “I never lost my love for kids and I never wanted to do anything different,” she said.
Within about a year of returning to college she completed her bachelor’s degree and later her Master’s degree – both at WMU.
As an early elementary teacher, Whitney said she thinks it’s important to have lots of patience, understanding, empathy and toughness. “I set realistic expectations for all my students,” she said.
The growth she sees in her students from the beginning of the year to the end of the year is “night and day difference,” she said. She always strives to teach her students kindness, helping others, and being a good person. Building confidence is also important. “They need to have their successes.”
Although born in Michigan, Whitney lived only a few years in the state before moving to Mississippi. Over the years, she moved back and forth at different times with her family. After graduation from Hastings High School, Whitney made Michigan her permanent home. When she looks across the McFall playground, she can still see her early childhood home.
“I’m very happy and fortunate to be here at TK. The students keep me young.”
Favorite Children’s Book: “Beady Bear” by Don Freeman
Hobbies: Flower gardening, golf, swimming and being with family (She has four children; Tim (Julie), Alison (Bryan), Carter (Makenzie), Shannon (Gio), six grandsons and two granddaughters.)
Bucket List Vacations: “Seeing more of the United States, especially the mountains out West.”
One Super Power She Would Most Like to Possess: “The ability to make people have a positive attitude.”
Best Thing About TK: “The people, the staff, the families, the kids - everything. McFall is such a great place to teach. The camaraderie with teachers is so good. We’re pretty darn lucky here.”