Tammy Diehl is in her 15th year at Forman School, and her passion for teaching has only grown over this time. “I love when students have that ‘aha!’ moment – when they truly understand what they are learning and then apply it successfully without thinking about,” she says. Beyond just an excitement for her field, Diehl has a love for Forman.
The Goshen, CT native has known about Forman her whole life. “My friends used to visit the pool that was here for swim meets,” she says. When a former colleague mentioned there was an opening at The Institute for Cognition and Learning, Diehl was interested. “My friend knew that I was working with her son in a public school and he was seeing success for the first time. She thought if I could do it with her son, I could help others just like him. I thought, ‘Why not?’ I ended up teaching him again when he came to school here,” she remembers. “I also have a personal connection with a different learner in my family; my daughter has LDs in reading, writing, and math. She is a freshman here this year.”
Fundamental to Diehl’s teaching is her understanding that all students learn differently. “I try to incorporate visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learning into all my lessons. I want to make sure that I am reaching them all in a way that they learn best. I also love using technology when I can in class,” she says. Diehl often employs strategies from the University of Kansas Strategic Instruction Model (SIM), but makes sure to teach to the student and try something else if one method is not effective. “I am also trained in Lindamood-Bell: Visualizing and Verbalizing and Seeing Stars, Wilson Reading Program, Orton Gillingham, Columbia Reading and Writing Program, among others,” she says. And the results are palpable: “Students who have been through The Institute have found them to be successful – I have even received emails from former students who are in college thanking me for teaching them strategies to help them.”
One activity in particular that Diehl likes to do with her new students is called Possible Selves. “They look at their strengths and create a tree with each limb representing a different area of their lives. Students fill in the branches with their hopes and expectations,” she explains. Diehl also adds a personal element to her instruction – as a board member of the Goshen Players theater group, she is known to sing and dance in her classroom. “Most of all, it’s important to have fun,” she says.
In addition to her Forman roles of teacher, coach, and dorm parent, Diehl is a historian at the American Legion and spent eight years as a Girl Scout Leader. As she reflects on what she enjoys about teaching, her dedication to education is evident: “I love watching kids grow and mature into young adults.”