“As we learn together, I love all the ‘Aha’ moments, the laughter, and the fun. Every day is different; every day I can make a difference.”
Second graders will say that Mary Tuohy’s favorite word is “yet.” The first thing they learn is, The power of yet, which underlines everything the class celebrates: holidays, birthdays, and failures. Students gasp and question, "Ms. Tuohy, why would we celebrate failures?" She then proceeds to tell them that mistakes lead to growth. With intentionality, she plants the seed that failing on a learning journey is part of the peaks of success and the valleys of failure. The pace of learning varies. “It’s okay to not to get something YET. Putting YET at the end of the sentence gives them power of patience, resiliency, and grit.”
Mary wishes parents knew more about growth mindset, since children are sometimes afraid to make mistakes, afraid to try something new, afraid to fail. She recognizes that when children struggle, they grow the most, especially when trying a new strategy or learning from others. As students develop a growth-mindset and reach their potential, they face challenges, not as obstacles, but invitations to keep trying until they succeed. A favorite quote captures Mary’s awareness and vision: A child is like a butterfly in the wind. Some can fly higher than others, but each one flies the best it can. Why compare one against the other? Each one is different, each one is special, each one is beautiful.
Mrs. Golden, Mary’s sixth-grade teacher, served as a role model who showed her where to look but did not tell her what to see. From this educator, Mary learned that each child should feel special, and learning should be fun. This inspiration sparked curiosity in Mary and has prompted her to challenge students to be the best versions of themselves, inside and outside the classroom. “At GSB, wonder, inquiry, and curiosity are nurtured in children who know that their teachers care about them long after they have left their classroom.” When former students come back to visit, they always share something they learned from Mary. Knowing that she played a part in their education is very special to her.