Crystal Tyler fulfills dream of becoming a teacher

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Crystal Tyler

Crystal Tyler isn’t a typical School of Education undergraduate student.

For starters, she’s a mother to Annalee, 11, and Miriam, almost 4. At 19, Tyler was widowed, and now at age 33, she will finally graduate with her teaching degree this month.

One thing she does have in common with so many School of Education students is the impact teachers had on her during her time in school.

“School was my safe haven,” Tyler said. “My third grade teacher Mrs. Stroud made a profound impact on my life. She always knew when I needed an extra hug or small gesture to show she cared. She never said anything but her actions told me she knew what was happening and that she was there for me. One memory in particular has always stayed with me: my parents had a really bad fight one morning before I caught the bus to school. My mom stopped by the school to apologize for that morning and made me upset again. When I went back to class I was crying. Mrs. Stroud was reading a boxcar children book to the class.  She never stopped reading, she simply motioned for me and when I walked to her, she pulled me up in her lap and rocked me while she continued to read to the class.”

Tyler also mentioned Mr. Sumner, her high school theater teacher, as having a huge influence on her life – so much so that he showed up at the funeral for her late husband even after she’d been out of high school for a year.

“After the funeral he sent me a letter telling me he had lost his first love early in life and how I would love again and that he was there for me,” she said. “Mr. Sumner was the teacher that believed in me when no one else did.”

Tyler credits teachers for becoming the person she is today – and for making her want to teach.

I wanted to make a difference in the world and the people who touch the most lives and have the most impact are teachers who not only teach standards and knowledge, they teach us what we are worth and what we are capable of.  

Crystal Tyler

“I wanted to make a difference in the world and the people who touch the most lives and have the most impact are teachers who not only teach standards and knowledge, they teach us what we are worth and what we are capable of,” she said. “They are the support system people forget about. That is why I wanted to become a teacher. It is the best way to have a part in changing the world.”

Tyler’s dedication is evident. Despite the challenge of going to school while balancing work and family, she was able to earn a Cox Scholarship.

“Being an educator requires many hats and constant acts of selflessness and dedication. We work for our students and have the most important job in the world. It takes a special person to help guide the minds of our future, the reward is greater than any other,” Tyler said. “If you ‘wait until the right time,’ there will be no right time. You also can’t let all the politics or red tape you have to deal with keep you from following your dreams. Jump in with both feet and never lose sight of the mission to change the life of a child with knowledge.”

Annalee, Tyler’s oldest daughter, inspired her to chase her dreams of becoming a teacher.

“She had seen and been through way more than a little girl her age should have to,” Tyler said. “I needed to show her that no matter what mountains life puts in your way, it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.” 

And this month, that dream Tyler has been working toward for so long will come true: she has started teaching seventh grade math at Mitchell Junior High School in Mitchell, Indiana.