Year Honored: 2018
Los Angeles, CA
Patty Tanner, the K-6 math coordinator for Wise School in Los Angeles, knew from a young age that she wanted to be an educator. “It was school that was my refuge and filled my life,” she says. After graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in English and education, Ms. Tanner began a career in retail, yet she sought out teaching opportunities like mentoring colleagues and teaching merchandising classes. Once she began raising her children, she was inspired to pursue a career in the classroom.
Ms. Tanner currently teaches sixth-grade math and reading, but has taught many elementary grades throughout her 28 years at Wise. She challenges students by setting high standards and making deep connections with each pupil. Ms. Tanner loves watching her students gain understanding of the material, particularly those who doubt their own math abilities: “It’s like a light bulb goes on.”
As K-6 math coordinator, Ms. Tanner carefully selects all the math curricula, mentors new teachers, works with the school’s math faculty on math scope and sequence, and attends national math conferences to keep Wise’s math curriculum on the cutting edge. Beyond her official roles, Ms. Tanner has also taken on leadership roles in other departments. She rewrote the third- and fourth-grade social studies curriculum and was one of the school’s first mentors for DeLeT, a program dedicated to fostering teaching excellence in Jewish day schools across North America. Several of her mentees have gone on to successful careers in education.
Mrs. Tanner embraces the challenge to ensure that all students at Wise gain confidence in math and see its relevancy in their everyday lives. When young students struggle with math, she says, they often conclude that they are “missing the math gene.” Nonsense, says Mrs. Tanner: “I hope to turn that around in every student.”
Note: This biography was current at the time this educator received the Award