By KYLIE McFERRIN
HAPPY CLASSROOM: Kindergarten teacher Tee McPhee is all smiles as every student, teacher and employee of Miss Helen’s School dressed in red, white and blue for the day this past summer when she was honored for becoming an American citizen. With Miss McPhee is her best friend and fellow kindergarten teacher Stephanie Byrne.
Photo by SHARON CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
Tee McPhee, a teacher at Miss Helen’s Private School, came to America from England with her husband Jim and their children in 2007.
The family’s journey to America began when Jim’s company transferred him to the States.
Lynda Wingo, executive director of Miss Helen’s Private School, says, “We hired Tee when we met her almost 10 years ago because she was so impressive.”
McPhee recently received her U.S citizenship, and she was honored at the school by her students. Her love of children and teaching is infectious.
While she had previously been involved in specialized sales, she returned to school with an emphasis on teaching and child psychology. The citizenship process was a long one. She is originally from Portsmouth, but with parents in the Royal Navy, there was a lot of moving and new homes – 23 to be exact.
When looking at a photo of her father on the ship he served upon, her husband found his father in the photo as well. When one encounters something by chance that seems like it was meant to be, it’s called “kismet.” This was certainly kismet!
When asked about Miss Helen’s and what caught her eye about the school, she mentioned coming across an advertisement for a job, and the rest is history.
Upon further questioning concerning her love of teaching and what drew her to it, it was apparent why she chose to move from sales to teaching many years ago.
“That lightbulb moment or the ‘aha’ moment when kids get it,” McPhee said. “Learning letters and then learning to read and knowing you are the one that helped make that happen.”
McPhee’s drive is not only moved by her passion of ensuring children know their numbers, letters, and how to line up at school, but to infuse curiosity and enjoyment into the learning process. One can actually hear those inflections in her voice when she speaks about her love of teaching.
When asked about what she herself has learned about the teaching profession and what it means to be a steward of children, she responded with, “Tolerance, patience, having a child’s eye.” One cannot deny when hearing her voice light up that she is made for this journey of ensuring our children are on their way to greatness.
McPhee also said how she understands completely that children will learn at different paces and will adjust accordingly to the student. She employs different ways of teaching each child if need be and will be creative with her techniques. She says she is constantly learning and always ensuring classroom management. Her use of classroom etiquette shines through in her tone and ability to assess what each child needs.
After speaking with McPhee, one is left with a sense of joy, positivity, and knowledge that, under her guidance, a child will be in the right hands. Not only does she exude her love for teaching but she also will make one feel at ease, which translates into what all children absolutely need in a teacher.
She was asked after spelling her last name, if there was any relation to the movie character “Nanny McPhee.” Guess who said yes? Kismet.
Miss Helen’s School has been a leading private institution in Tulsa since 1954, focusing on excellent care and education. Wingo believes in the same philosophy as her mother-in-law, Helen Wingo; to provide a great learning institution where children can develop their reading, math, and social talents as well as improve communication skills and learning habits. It prides itself on learned discipline, academics, and curriculum. Not only is it a prestigious school, but it employs the best of the best.