Teacher Stories: Tanya Mosely, 1st Grade Teacher, Walnut Elementary, Toms River

I worked at a bank for 6 years, and then I took a year off and volunteered at my children’s school, and tried to figure out what I wanted to do. I had two associate degrees, but got pregnant with my daughter and I told myself that once my kids were older I would finish out. After I began volunteering, that’s where I got the spark to teach. So I went back to school and the next thing I know, I began a teaching career.

Then I started working with the Municipal Alliance Program, which is a community-based anti-drug coalition. It’s a preventative program run by the state. I ran an after school program, and we had a lot of latchkey kids; the kids would be home by themselves after school and end up in trouble. So we were able to bring them and do something educational with them until their parents could come and get them. This would prevent them from getting out in the street. I am still doing it in South Toms River.

I was so surprised to find out that I had a passion for kids. When I graduated high school, I swore that it would be the last career I would ever want to do. As I got older I changed. It is watching the kids progress, and watching the light come on for them.

I am also a councilwoman for South Toms River. I grew up in South Toms River. My mother had me when she was young, so my grandparents raised me. I was the first one in my family to graduate from college. My mom was with me, but she was trying to find herself, so she was in and out a lot. My brother and I are two of over 40 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. When I grew up in South Toms River, it was like a little village. We all knew each other and everyone had each other’s back. It is different now. There is a big influx of new people coming in from the cities, so they are used to a certain way of life, and that is changing our town. It seems like there is a lack of community connection, so we are working on that. You have to take pride in your community.

I have cancer right now. What I have is multiple myeloma. There is only a two percent cure rate. It is like having diabetes. It flares up, you treat it, and you keep moving. They can treat it, but they cannot cure it. Before I got diagnosed in 2013, I had 5 family members get diagnosed with cancer, and three of them passed away. Two are still alive. Thinking about it now, we are all from the Toms River area, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I have two children and a grandson, so I keep myself busy and occupied. There is stuff to do. I’m living with cancer and not dying with cancer. I still have things to do.

Article and photo by Gregory Andrus. If you would like to nominate someone for the popular Teachers Stories, you can contact him at andrusgregory@gmail.com


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