Coming from a long line of educators
Education is Erika Tinker’s heritage. Growing up in a family with parents, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother who were teachers – and today, her brother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law are also teachers, there is no doubt Tinker embodies the spirit of education.
As a young child, Tinker had an incredible life-changing experience when she lived in Liberia, in western Africa, where both of her parents taught at an international school. A civil war caused them to evacuate, and her eyes were forever opened to world cultures. Tinker planted the seed that was to be her lifelong dedication to and passion for education.
In Liberia, the simple pleasure of going to school was for the privileged few and often taken for granted. There is no form of public education. Those wealthy enough to afford private tuition were the fortunate ones who had the opportunity to learn. Tinker realized teaching was her calling the moment she witnessed an adult neighbor going through her family’s trash can searching for her third grade papers to teach himself how to read.
Tinker began to see education as both a privilege and a basic human right. As a young adult, she set off to the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) where she received a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in school counseling. She was set on supporting students as they pursue academic, vocational and social/emotional successes.
After college, Tinker served as a school counselor at an alternative high school in northern Colorado and worked as a graduate assistant at the Women’s Resource Center at UNC. She met her husband, Grant, in Greeley and eventually the couple moved to Castle Rock to further their careers and start a family.
Tinker took some time off from school counseling to be with her daughter Sienna and then soon applied for a part-time, preschool position at DCS Montessori (DCSM) in Castle Pines.
Since 2007, Tinker has worked multiple positions at DCSM and has spent the last eight years at the middle school as the social studies teacher. Tinker is very passionate about the Montessori philosophy and supporting each student as they discover their own path.
Tinker’s desire is to support the education of the “whole” child, a belief that began in Africa, further developed as a school counselor, and came full circle in her DCSM classrooms. To light a fire of passion for learning and education with their time spent together is her ultimate hope.
By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Erika Tinker