Class Act: Math teacher adds “excitement” to classroom

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 1:54 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and what better way to celebrate than highlighting our April Class Act.

Terri Tyner is a math teacher at Westside High School. Her co-teacher, Chelsea Lehman, says it’s been a privilege to work alongside her.

“We’re kind of the yin and the yang. We’re opposites. She is very bubbly, very happy to tell corny jokes very excitable and I’m just now learning this curriculum that she’s like an expert in,” Lehman said. “She was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and we found out right before the school year started, so she took a leave of absence from August until about mid-February.”

Lehman says even after surgeries and complications Tyner would always come to their meetings even if she zoomed in.

She says she would come to faculty meetings and even surprise them at lunch even though they could tell her body physically was suffering from the effects of chemo. Lehman says her jokes just made them all feel so much better.

“Terri is my mentor. If I could have just a little bit of her and put it into myself as well as my colleagues, we would all be better. She’s got the curriculum down. She loves the kids. She’s funny. She has a certain laugh, that it doesn’t matter where you are on the campus, everybody knows where Terri is with her laugh,” Lehman said.

Tyner says teaching is her love and passion.

“They told me from the beginning, the only way you could fight the cancer was to fight it head-on and that’s what I did,” Tyner said. “But, I had so much support from the school and from the co-workers.”

Tyner is known for her corny jokes and dressing up on Meme Day in a “Put it in reverse, Terri” shirt. The phrase originated from a viral video where a person yelled, “Put it in reverse, Terry” to a man who came close to being hit with fireworks while in his wheelchair.

“Anything that’s funny is gonna be appropriate for Terri,” Lehman said.

“Yes, they Photoshopped me in so it would represent me and telling me to put it in reverse Terri,” Tyner said.

Tyner says it all about the students seeing her human side.

“You’ve got to be able to connect to your students or they won’t connect and learn in your classroom,” Tyner said. “You’ve got to make a relationship with them the very first day for them to come in and understand that the classroom is their classroom and they can learn, you know, we can still have a good time and learn at the same time.”

After being an educator for 24 years, Tyner says she doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon.

“I do love what I do and I enjoy coming every day to school and seeing what the new day has to offer,” she said. “I’m concerned about each student and always know that I am there for them and make sure that they are having a good day and make sure that they are learning at the same time but always knowing that I care overall about their wellbeing and know that I love them so much.”

“Terry is just one of those amazing people that, doing extra things for her, it just comes naturally because she would do it for us,” Lehman said. “I love you, Terri Tyner.”

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