2018 Blackboard Award Honoree: Perri Lawrie Tyson

Perri Lawrie Tyson

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2018
Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Perri Lawrie Tyson
Grade 1
Arts & Letters

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as
a teacher.

I teach young learners because I believe it is essential that we build upon their natural wonder with experiences that foster a love of learning. I think children should always be encouraged to explore their own ideas and believe in their own unique abilities. Over the past 11 years in New York City classrooms, I’ve learned that teaching is an (exhaustingly) wonderful career and a calling to which I am entirely committed.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

I am particularly proud of the work I have done with my co-teacher and
first grade colleagues to let children’s interests drive our project-based units. We organize learning around a unit of study, the theme of which runs through all the learning we do as we work to integrate math, reading, social studies, science, and writing within that concept. During the culminating project for each unit, my students invite their families into our classroom to share their learning through a hands-on experience that changes each year based on the children’s interests and ideas.

Perri Lawrie Tyson with executive editor of New York Family Mia Weber. Photo by Daniel S. Burnstein.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated and hard-working educator?

As a child, math was a source of overwhelming anxiety for me. As an adult, I came to realize that I have dyscalculia, a math-based learning disability akin to dyslexia. But my struggle as a child fuels my passion to help young children experience and enjoy math in a way that I did not. I have made it my goal to learn as many ways of teaching a mathematical concept to a child as possible, as well as helping to facilitate different kinds of learning to empower every child to see themselves as a mathematician.

What do you love about your school?

I feel a strong connection to Arts & Letters’ focus on inquiry-based learning and the general encouragement of children’s wonder. I love the opportunity
to take what I’ve learned from the various schools I’ve worked in and apply them in a setting where children’s interests, a respect for creativity, and teacher autonomy are paramount.