Diane Tawbush would rather talk about her school than herself.
Although the veteran teacher was recently recognized for her accomplishments and years of service in education, she was content to draw attention to her profession and Pell City High School, where she teaches ninth grade math.
“There is not another occupation where you can influence as many people as you can here,” she said. “This is our mission field. We’re giving people a future.”
With degrees in mathematics education and special education, Mrs. Tawbush came to teaching “later in life,” after having two children, and “I love the heck out of it.” At a desk in her classroom, sitting beside her daughter Rachael, the Springville resident discussed her recent award and why she loves working at Pell City High.
The award: The Alabama Sports Festival’s Medal of Distinction, presented in recognition of “tireless effort and commitment to contributing to the lives of students.” Her daughter Rachael presented Mrs. Tawbush’s medal, provided by the state legislature, the sports festival, and the Governor’s Commission of Physical Fitness, to her during the ASF’s opening ceremonies in June.
At the 1988 Alabama State Games: Mrs. Tawbush won the gold medal in the ASF’s adult division roller speed skating competition. At the time, roller speed skating was being considered for inclusion in the Olympics, and her daughters were part of the Alabama Dixie Riders skating team. They both won bronze medals in their age divisions that year, and “not to be outdone, Mom put on her speed skates and ended up winning first place. I almost died. It was an awesome moment for me and my girls.” A severe foot injury later limited her physical activity, but “it was an exciting thing to be a part of it back then.”
About this year’s opening ceremonies: “I was proud to be there and be a part of it. It was really energizing to see the kids parading in, and I was pleased to see that Pell City had competitors in bass fishing and soccer. That was really exciting.”
About the ASF: In its 28th year, the Alabama Sports Festival is a non-profit organization formed at the request of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Part of a nationwide network of state games, it promotes academic excellence and good citizenship.
About Pell City High: “Our school is awesome. Everyone in Pell City can be proud of what they have here. Our Freshman Academy is starting its second year, we have unbelievable technology, and the administration is incredibly supportive. Where my classroom is located, I have a Ph.D. on one side of me and a Ph.D. on the other side. Almost everyone on the faculty has a master’s degree, so the quality of education here is amazing.”
PC Technology: “I left a school in Jefferson County where I was a department head and had tenure to come to Pell City to teach. I taught everything there, grades 9-12, from algebra to pre-calculus and didn’t have access to half the knowledge people here have about technology. It’s by far superior to anything I’ve ever seen, and it was more than worth the difference to come here. People in Pell City put their money where their mouth is.”
Does PCHS have issues? “Every school does, but ours are not much and nothing major. As long as you love your students and let them know this is a safe place to be, they’ll do anything in the world for you.”
Keeping it in the family: Both of her daughters and her son-in-law are high school teachers—Nichole at Pleasant Grove High and her husband K.C. at McAdory High, and Rachael teaches science at PCHS. “It’s nice that we can all talk with each other and understand the problems we run into and the challenges we’re facing.”
Rachael on her mom: “I grew up going to college with my mom. She took us to her classes at UAB, so we learned quick, fast, and in a hurry how to behave in a classroom. There are not a lot of women who would go back to school with two little kids, but her example has taught my sister and me to never give up.”