WSYM — There are lessons you can teach by saying, and there are lessons you can teach by doing. Darren Tanis – or Mister Tanis to his students – is doing the latter, in a few different ways.
The 12-year teaching veteran, and 5-year literal veteran of the Michigan National Guard, was deployed to Washington D.C. shortly after the Capitol riots in early January. His math class at Forest Hills Eastern was left with a permanent replacement, but as his deployment kept getting extended, Tanis decided he wasn’t going to lose the connection he had with his kids.
“It is unique times, you know, and technology's made things possible that weren't possible before,” said Tanis. “What I'm trying to do is just trying to continue that normalcy for kids as much as possible.”
And Tanis has found it’s the simple things. A few times a week, from his hotel room in D.C. in between 8-hour guard shifts, he’s recording and uploading lessons for his students to watch and reference. He says it’s not much, but that’s his opinion – for his kids it’s making a world of difference.
For them, his example of obligation – to his students and his country – is more a lesson in commitment than in math.
“He just dropped everything - his family life, his schooling - he loves teaching, like a lot too,” said FHE student Karissa DenBraber. “I miss him a lot, but it's still like a great thing that he's doing.”
Tanis doesn’t know when he’ll be back with his students online, or even in person for that matter, but he knows keeping up with his lesson plans are just as important for his kids as it is for him.
“I don't feel like I'm doing that much. Really, I feel like I'm just trying to do my best to support them. I don't feel like I'm working any miracles,” he said. “They just keep rolling with it. They just keep making the most of it.”