Q&A with Oak Creek School teacher of the week Tiana Hatler

Cottonwood-Oak Creek educator excels at ‘building trust’

Growing up, Tiana Hatler “always loved a good debate.” Had she not become a teacher, Hatler likely would have pursued a career in law. VVN/Bill Helm

Growing up, Tiana Hatler “always loved a good debate.” Had she not become a teacher, Hatler likely would have pursued a career in law. VVN/Bill Helm

COTTONWOOD – Creative. Patient. Willing to ask questions.

These are good traits for a first-year teacher, Oak Creek School Principal Nayadin Persaud said.

Persaud, a first-year principal at the Cornville school, is talking about Tiana Hatler, her school’s newest second- and third-grade teacher.

“Tiana is very good at building trust with her kids,” Persaud said. “She is skilled at assessing where they are academically and behaviorally, and identifying what they need. She is collaborative and reflective in her teaching practice.”

Hatler has “always enjoyed helping others as they grow and learn.”

In high school, Hatler interned in a third grade classroom and also helped students in their reading programs.

“During my senior year in high school, we got to coach younger basketball teams as part of a G-league program sponsored by the school and our basketball coach,” Hatler said.

While in college, Hatler worked as a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons.

“It was always great to watch children gain both skills and confidence in the water,” she said. “All of these things came together to lead me to a career in education.”

According to Persaud, Hatler has a “natural ability in helping her kids feel confident and successful.”

“Her kids know that she genuinely believes in them and cares for them,” Persaud said.

If she was not a teacher, Hatler said she would want to be a lawyer.

“Growing up, I always loved a good debate,” said Hatler, who also considered a career in exercise science.

“I think it would still be somehow in a way to help others,” Hatler said. “As a longtime athlete, I also like to coach, so perhaps I can eventually make that a part of my teaching career.”

Verde Valley Newspapers: Describe your teaching style.

Tiana Hatler: “I love hands-on learning,” Hatler said. “I also want the students to make discoveries on their own. I am there to guide them in the right direction.

“When students figure something out on their own, it is even more special. I believe in life-long learning. It keeps us curious and interested. It motivates us. I want to pass that desire of life-long learning on to my students.”

VVN: Tell us something notable about your career.

Hatler: As a freshman at Northern Arizona University, Hatler was a red-shirt on the track team.

“That allowed me five years to compete, so I began working on my Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership even before I started student teaching,” Hatler said.

“Once I finished my Elementary Education degree, I continued with track competition and taking Master’s classes.”

Hatler said she will complete her MA program in December.

“The thing that is notable about this is the fact we have this kind of opportunity,” Hatler said. “I am very grateful to NAU for allowing me to move forward with both my academic and athletic goals.”

VVN: Do you have a favorite quote?

Hatler: According to Hatler, life “isn’t waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain.”

“We all face challenges. I dealt with them in athletics because you don’t always win, yet you keep going,” Hatler said. “Periodically, you deal with injuries, yet you work harder to recover and continue to compete. There are challenges in the classroom as you strive to do your best. The whole idea of the quotation is to keep going, to keep learning, to stay positive, and to allow yourself to believe in what you can do.”

VVN: Tell us something most folks don’t know about you.

Hatler: Hatler was a part of the NAU Track and Field team.

“I gained a great deal from the experience in both competing and traveling, and I finished with All-Conference Honors,” she said.

 -- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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