Alumni Highlights

Tavi Riddle (NC ’07) | Educator on the Move

October 12, 2021

Count Tavi Riddle among the thousands of Nyack College alumni who have served literally around the globe!

One of the first Nyack School of Education graduates to complete the Master of Science/Bachelor of Science in Childhood Special Education program, Tavi has held positions as a classroom teacher, phonics coordinator, and co-chair of “early years” departments in Cambodia, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.

Today the 2007 alumna is the Assistant Principal of Instruction at The Lincoln Academy in Beloit, Wisconsin, a K4-12 tuition-free public charter school. No stranger to this environment after four years as a founding educator at a charter school in New Orleans, Louisiana, Tavi will coach and collaborate with the teaching staff at Lincoln Academy. Expanding on her Nyack credentials, she’s currently completing another master’s degree in administrative leadership, including both principal and director of curriculum and instruction licensure.

Destined for leadership, the one-time cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point sensed the call to become an educator.

“I was surprised to find a college that had a great program for just that, down the road in the village of Nyack. I left West Point at the end of my freshman year, and began at Nyack that fall. Becoming an educator was truly one of the best decisions I ever made, and Nyack was a huge part of that process.”

Her leap of faith was affirmed when she enolled as a Nyack College student.

“The professors were supportive and well-versed,” Tavi surmised. “The classes were small and impactful. I could tell that the program was really focused on not just producing “teachers” but change agents committed to serving communities both near and far.”

Every successful student can look back and recall that one educator who left an indelible mark on his or her life. Tavi immediately names Dr. JoAnn Looney, School of Education dean. “There is never a year that passes that I don’t think of her and her belief in me. The very first class I took with her I remember I used to sit in the front row…and fall asleep! One class she held me after to talk about it.”

True to the mentoring spirit of Nyack faculty, Dr. Looney’s response was not at all what Tavi anticipated. “Instead of shaming and dismissing me, she actually acknowledged my gifts and collaborated with me to help me become a more focused student. Years later I graduated with the School of Education’s “Apple Award.” I know my connection with her, Dr. Chris Willard and Kristen Luba kept me feeling supported and pushed at the same time.”

Now that she’s on the other side of the desk, what words of wisdom does Tavi Riddle have for current Nyack School of Education students?

“The amazing journey that is teaching awaits you! There will be many valley moments, but just as many mountain top moments. It comes down to doing good work with an even better attitude. Keep an open heart, strong back, malleable mind, and soul set on service!”

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