Taira Blankenship is a first grade teacher at East Side Elementary. She is in her 15th year of teaching; all of those in Chandler. She is the box top coordinator for East Side. Before teaching Taira did behavioral counseling and psychosocial individual and group rehab for children.
Q Where did you grow up?
A I lived in Overland Park, Kansas and Littleton, Colorado until my family moved when I was in fifth grade to Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I lived in Bartlesville until I graduated high school.
Q Where did you attend college?
A I received my Bachelors in Psychology and minor in Child Development from OSU (Go Pokes!) in 2000. I received my Masters of Education in Elementary School Counseling from ECU in 2005.
Q What led you to teaching?
A I knew I wanted to work with and help kids but I just never knew which way. When I started working in counseling before having my own kids, it was easy to work odd hours seven days a week but that didn’t work once I had my own kids. I started to go back to school to get my teaching certificate and learned that with my experience I could be alternatively certified, so I did and began teaching in 2004.
Q Did you have any key mentors or people who influenced who you are, and/or your decision to become an educator?
A When I was in middle school, I had an English teacher that had so much passion for her job and her students it was unbelievable. She read every book on a list of 300 books we could do book reports on. She taught us this helping verb cheer I can still do to this day. She took an interest in every student and every student knew they mattered. I was blessed again to have her as my junior year English teacher. That year her infant son had leukemia and she was gone two days a week but the days she was there she still ate lunch with her students and cared even though she had other worries in her life.
Q What would you say most motivates you to teach?
A The students’ faces when they realize they are reading by themselves. I love that look they have when they realize they just read a page or a book by themselves without any help.
Q What are you most excited or passionate about?
A In my life it would be my family, but in teaching it would be giving every student the chance to learn. No matter what a student encounters at home, at school or inside themselves they can learn. Everyone learns differently and it is my job to find out how to teach to their learning style.
Q What do you find most challenging about being a teacher?
A Sometimes the ‘road blocks’ I feel that are put in place of how far I can go to help my students. Some might call it the ‘hoops’ I have to jump through before I can help students get the help they need.
Q What's the best thing to happen since you started teaching?
A The relationships I have gained with teachers and past students. I love seeing past students and seeing how they have achieved so much.
Q What might students and parents be surprised to know about you?
A As a kid in Colorado, I used to deliver phone books out of the back of a station wagon on some weekends. I also used to hoe the weeds in cottonfields with family in Texas during the summer (but I wasn’t very good at it). My parents were big into teaching me and my sisters about the value of money and hard work.
Q What profession other than your own would you most like to attempt?
A When I went to college I was pre-med for physician assistant but chemistry was too hard.
Q What are three things every teacher should own?
A 1. Colorful pens (not red) so it’s a tad better to grade. 2. Chocolate to get you through that “one” day here and there. 3. Bag on wheels to carry your stuff because it will always be full and heavy.
Taira is the youngest of three girls. She has been married for 18 years to Doyle Blankenship, who is a math teacher and a coach in Wellston. They have two sons Gannon and Gage. Taira stays busy with her boys’ activities and helping her husband be the campus pastor at their network church of Life.Church, One Prayer Church in Chandler. In her free time she loves to read what her family calls ‘teeny bopper’ books or adolescent age books. Taira loves going to movies especially superhero ones. She has collected Berenstain Bear books since kindergarten and still does today. She loves to take vacations that involve rollercoasters and any kind of fast rides!