Golden Apple: Felicia Tuff

Golden Apple

Felicia Tuff really gets to know her students during their time in her classroom. Time that’s a bit longer than the typical high school career.
“Most students stay with me for 7 years,” Tuff says. “It is a pleasure to work with them. You really get to know them. You get to see how they grow from 9th grade all the way to 12th, plus.”
Ms. Tuff says she loves her students as if they were her own.
“I had my daughter about 6 years ago. And these were my children before I had my actual daughter. I have always had this mother type figure with them. I do the same things for these kids as I do with my daughter. This is my calling, special education.”
A calling that has some deep family ties.
“My aunt, Betty Jackson had foster children. One of her girls was Down Syndrome. Nobody really talked to her. I used to go visit. I started talking to Tina. We just clicked. She gave me that big smile and big hug. I think she helped me more than I helped her that day. From then on, I knew special ed was what I wanted to do.”
Ms. Tuff doesn’t depend on report cards to let her know how her kids are doing.
“We have progress reports. To me, progress reports mean just a tad bit more than report cards, in this setting. I get to write actual detailed comments to let the parents know the actual progress they have made, instead of a number grade.”
I asked her to break out her crystal ball and tell me where she sees these students in a few years. Shes says she just wants them to be able to do well in the world outside of Westside High School.
“I want them to be as independent as possible,” she says. “That is my goal in here every day. I always tell them that Ms. Tuff nor your parents are not going to be here forever. That’s why I try to teach them to be as independent as possible.”

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