January 10, 2024

Greenfield Middle School Teacher Tammy Mihalyi is an Outstanding Educator

Greenfield Middle School Teacher Tammy Mihalyi is an Outstanding Educator Featured Image

Tammy Mihalyi, a Spanish teacher at Greenfield Middle School, is a WEA Member Benefits and WEAC Outstanding Educator. Mihalyi will be recognized at the January 13 Badgers men’s hockey game versus Lindenwood in Madison. She is a member of the Greenfield Education Association.

While at Greenfield Middle School, Mihalyi has served as an Instructional Leader, Mentor and National Junior Honor Society advisor.

“My favorite part of work is planning lessons that are engaging and meaningful for my students,” Mihalyi said. “I am committed to designing lessons that get my students to acquire Spanish instead of simply learning about the language. I find joy when students recognize and show pride in their growth in proficiency. Throughout the year, I ask students to reflect on what they can do now with the language that they were unable to do at the beginning of the year. When I posed this question a month ago, one of my students raised his hand, and said that now he could speak some Spanish with his grandfather. Moments like this are the reward of teaching.”

Mihalyi’s experiences as a student were the impetus for her decorated career as an educator. She was inspired by the teachers who educated and guided her throughout her own schooling.

“I have benefited from the guidance of many excellent teachers,” Mihalyi said. “The teacher who started me on the path to teaching is Miss Untz, my high school Spanish teacher. I loved her class and the way that she taught. She encouraged me to apply to be an exchange student, and I spent the summer of my junior year of high school as an AFS student in Montevideo, Uruguay. I was hosted by a wonderful family that treated me as a daughter and sister. During my stay, I realized that I knew very little about the world outside of the United States, while my host family seemed to know quite a bit about my country. I wanted to learn more, and I wanted others to learn too.”

For Mihalyi, teaching and learning are two parts of the same process—for individuals and communities. Being a teacher means being a lifelong learner, because educators are constantly learning new things to incorporate into their teaching as they also cultivate an appreciation for lifelong learning in their students.

“I am proud of being a lifelong learner,” Mihalyi said. “I have continued to work on my Spanish proficiency by taking classes for Spanish teachers in Spain and Costa Rica. I am proud of the way that my fellow educators and I have kept up with changing technology. In 1985, I took an Applied Instructional Media course at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside as part of my teacher certification program. In that class I learned how to operate a ditto machine, filmstrip projector and laminator. My first classroom did not have a phone, let alone a computer. The language lab consisted of a cassette recorder.”

“Fast forward to March 2020 and I am teaching students over Zoom only days after the cessation of in-person classes. Today, I am able to give students instant feedback while we use interactive speaking and writing platforms. The paper gradebook has been replaced with an electronic gradebook that parents and students can see in real time.”

That lifelong learning process is also advanced by membership in education employee unions like WEAC, NEA and the Greenfield Education Association. Mihalyi said she relies on her union to look out for her and her colleagues as they also look out for and support each other, with the union’s help, as educators and as members of their communities.

“I count on my professional union to advocate for me both personally and professionally. As our country faces growing teacher shortages, it is imperative that educators have a collective voice to provide the public with accurate information about current curriculum and learning environments to ensure informed decisions regarding schools and teachers. Students deserve qualified teachers. Together we can advocate for improvement in education.

“I am motivated by the many people whom I work with at Greenfield Middle School. Educating adolescents is often unpredictable, and I am grateful for colleagues who show up every day to face the challenges that are certain to arise. Our mission statement is based on the belief that all learning begins with meaningful relationships. It is motivating for both staff and students alike when relationships are formed and there is a sense of belonging and purpose.”

Do you or a Wisconsin public school employee you know deserve extra recognition as an Outstanding Educator? If so, complete this nomination form on the Wisconsin Badgers Athletic Department website. The form asks you to write a paragraph or two about what makes this educator stand out. Educators are welcome to nominate themselves.

The Outstanding Educator program is sponsored by the UW Athletic Department, WEA Member Benefits and WEAC.