Teaching by example: CEHHS grad Jackie Tarnacki says experience, faculty led her to classroom confidence

Jackie TarnackiAs a child, Jackie Tarnacki taught her sister and neighbors their ABCs.

As a young teen, she volunteered as a reading tutor at an elementary school next door to her high school.

As a UM-Dearborn student, she’s had experiences in many classrooms and grade levels—as a lead teacher at the Early Childhood Education Center, a teaching intern at Detroit Public Schools and a student teacher in the Warren Consolidated School District.

“I always had a thing for working and connecting with kids. Seeing them light up when they finally have their a-ha moment it so rewarding,” said Tarnacki, an early childhood education and math education double major.

Now—looking ahead to her December 17 commencement—Tarnacki said the instruction, both in her courses and in the field, from the College of Education, Health, and Human Services makes her confident to take the next step.

“Before I even set foot at the front of a classroom, I was lucky to have had the experience and knowledge of how to write lesson plans and run a classroom. I feel like my experiences here push me ahead in my field.”

Tarnacki said she’s always been a fan of maize and blue and she knew the level of hands-on education she’d get on the Dearborn campus—her father and brother are UM-Dearborn alumni.

“I knew I wanted to go here, but until I got to campus, I didn’t realize the strong bonds that I was going to make with my professors,” she said. “They want to get you into classrooms that are outside of your cultural experience. They help you navigate challenges. They are there for you no matter what. They do everything to prepare you to be successful—they are the type of teachers I aspire to be.”

Tarnacki said she wrapped up her student teaching—in a kindergarten classroom at Jefferson Elementary in Sterling Heights—right before graduation. And now she’s ready for one of her own.

“I love going into a classroom, working with kids and seeing their smiling faces. And the more classrooms I taught in, the more I knew it was right for me,” Tarnacki said. “I cannot see myself doing anything else.”

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