Maxine Tanney – Teacher Extraordinare
Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
At this time of year children everywhere – from the rugged coast of Maine to sunny Huntington Beach – can’t wait to race out the school house door and jump into their favorite swimming holes or paddle out to catch the first wave of summer.
SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel think now is the perfect time to salute their teachers for the countless hours spent helping each child to learn and achieve.
Maxine Tanney represents all that is good in the teaching profession.
She is the teacher children will remember. The one who spent her own money on classroom supplies, got to school early to put up colorful bulletin boards and displays, and took inner city kids to see the beach for the first time.
A self-described “New York gal from Brooklyn,” Tanney spent over 40 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District in the heart of LA, most recently teaching third grade at the Fifty-Ninth Street Elementary School.
A teacher with big dreams for her students, Tanney always told them they could be anything as long as they studied and worked hard. No matter what kind of home they came from or how rough the neighborhood, they could do it. And she would be there to help them succeed and to applaud their accomplishments.
Tanney took children to see movies and plays, on trips to the museum, and to explore the tide pools. And she brought the outside world into the classroom with photographs and stories of her own travels.
An explorer and adventurer, Tanney has gone to every corner of the world.
Viewing the Northern Lights from the Arctic Circle.
Walking on the Great Wall of China.
Backpacking on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Climbing up to Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountains
Watching the giant turtles in the Galapagos Islands…
and the penguins in Antarctica.
With more stamped pages in her passport than Waldo in Where’s Waldo? Tanney loves to see different countries and meet new people.
To better understand and communicate with her Hispanic students, Tanney spent one summer in a tiny Central Mexican town living with a family and practicing her Spanish. With no frills or fanfare, she got off a bus in the town and found the address of the home where she was staying posted on the wall of the station…then walked alone to find the house where she shared a room, helped with the household chores, and became part of the family.
Quick to smile and even quicker to lend a hand when needed, Tanney is the kind of teacher and friend everyone would like to have.
Now retired from teaching, Tanney told SurfWriter Girls this is what she would say to anyone thinking about becoming a teacher:
“I would tell them for the rest of their lives they will be proud to say they were a teacher. There will be kids who drive you crazy and you usually love them the most of all.
I would tell them their students will get under their skin and they will want to do everything they can for them. They will make you pump your arms with each success and make you go home so frustrated at times.
If you are waiting for pats on the back and a thank you, you won’t always receive them. But, every so often, a special note will be written or a kid will stop by years later just to see you.
That will make your day and let you know that you did make a difference.”
And, yes, Maxine Tanney – and all the teachers who care – has made a big difference.
So, now that summer’s almost here, let’s put on the sunscreen, race out the school house door to new adventures…and give a heart-felt salute to the teachers.
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A nice story!
this woman is amazing! She was my third grade teacher. and at 24 I would still make time to go see her…
Our Maxine passed away, this month (October, 2015). How fitting your tribute is, and how much we all miss her. The photos from Maxine’s youth that you used were exactly how I remember her from our days as girls at UCLA.
I was one of those kids she spoke of that gave her great frustration. She never gave up on me and loved me through it all. It is a very sad day for me to know that children will not benefit from the amazing person that she was. Ironically I am now in the profession that she chose. Never in all of my years did I ever think that I would become a teacher. I will carry her words with me and attempt to duplicate the love, nurturing and enthusiasm that I received from her. Thank you Ms. Tanney I will never forget you.
I found this page and had to post. I’m not sure who reviews this page, but my heart is full after discovering this loss. She was my teacher for three incredible years (grades 4-6). I loved her. Thank God I told her. She changed the lives of so many children. I am who I am because of her… I know she’s in Heaven smiling at each and every child that crosses her path. ( Lisa and Karen, please accept my condolences) – Florence Avognon, California Teacher of the Year 2012
Ms. Tanney, as she was so fondly referred, was my favorite teacher! She was my 3rd & 4th grade teacher. She truly cared about her students. I fondly remember weekend trips she would take myself and several other students on. Movies, dinner, weekend stays at her home. She was truly one to go down in history as a GREAT teacher! LOVED HER!