RIVERDALE -- People have asked Tanya Tremea if she ever gets tired of teaching first grade at Riverdale Elementary School. After all, she has been teaching there for 26 years.
Her quick answer is always a firm, "No." She says she loves what she does and sees each day as a new opportunity.
It's that positive attitude that got her named teacher of the year in Weber School District this year.
"She is the poster child for being optimistic ... and most of all an advocate for her students," Principal Tommy Lee said in the nomination letter to the district.
Tremea said she was surprised by the nomination and even more surprised when she won.
"They just showed up in my room with the award," she said.
Tremea graduated from Brigham Young University with her bachelor's degree and received her master's degree from Grand Canyon University.
As she talked about her love for teaching she pointed out the carefully organized bookmarks her students were preparing for Mother's Day.
One mom came in to get her child's homework, and Tremea spoke with the mother about the child's progress and general performance in class.
Lee said it isn't uncommon for Tremea to know her students well. He referenced a recent letter written by a parent about Tremea. Tremea sends her students home with positive notes about their progress, which helps them feel important and loved, said the parent. But for Tremea, that's what it's all about.
"It really comes down to the kids," she said of her passion for teaching. "I love the kids, and if I can get them to love school while they are young, it builds a strong foundation."
Tremea attributes much of her success to the other first-grade teachers she works with. Her other two partners, Karen Dinsdale and Gina Buckway, work together daily, discussing what works best for the students and how each student's needs can be met.
Tremea has worked with Dinsdale for 26 years. Dinsdale was her mentor when she started teaching.
"They are just good people," she said of her co-workers. Being able to collaborate and share is a critical key to teaching success, she added. "Everyone jumps in and helps."
Tremea said she doesn't get bored with teaching, because the young students get excited about the smallest things and there is always a new adventure for them. She also enjoys seeing the progress they make throughout the school year and the confidence they gain as students.
Lee said that's one of Tremea's specialties -- to bring out her students' self-confidence.
Tremea has seen a lot of changes in education over the past 26 years, but feels optimistic about the changes. She sees the new common core the state has recently adopted as a way for students to learn concepts more deeply.
"Kids are required to learn a lot more now," she said.
She has no plans to leave or change direction now.
"I will retire here," she said as she looked around her classroom. "I always tell my students, 'If you think you can, you can.' "
And those around her say they're glad Tremea keeps thinking she can.