INDIAN HEAD, Md. – The line from student to teacher to administrator was not straight forward for Tammika Little, vice-principal at Henry E. Lackey High School. But if she had to connect the dots, her career path might have started to take shape when she was a child.

“I always said I was going to be a doctor. But I used to play in school when I was growing up. I was rounding up my dolls, my cousins, and doing spelling tests,” Little said. “I guess the circle is complete. I just didn’t know that at the time.

It would take a run in the great outdoors coupled with advice and encouragement from friends and colleagues to help Little find his way.

Little was recently named the 2022 Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Vice Principal of the Year. Before coming to Lackey, Little was an assistant principal at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, before moving on to John Hanson Middle School. Prior to becoming an administrator, she was a grade seven language arts teacher and a gifted education resource teacher.

Little graduated in English from Fayetteville State University in her home state of North Carolina. Little was a biology major in the pre-med track when she entered college. When she found herself driving through the woods to take a botany class, she had a change of heart. Little is the first to admit that she’s not “out there.”

“I am a country girl,” she says. “But I’m a country girl who sat in the screened porch. I don’t like insects,” she says. At the same time as she was questioning her decision about pre-med, Little was taking a poetry elective and found herself more engaged and interested in dissecting paragraphs than insects. This led her to switch from biology to English. “I have to do what I love,” Little recalled, telling himself. It’s advice she believes in, but when discussing the future with students, she adds a caveat. “What I would say to kids now is, ‘Yeah, you have to do what you love.’ There’s nothing wrong with that, but you also have to be able to eat,” she said.

After graduating from college, Little accepted a position as a museum registrar. Her favorite part of the job was coordinating activities and programs for visiting children. A friend noticed this and suggested Little try his hand at education. At first, she had doubts. She had thought about pursuing a career in mass communications, possibly sports journalism. Her friend convinced her to try teaching for a year. She was hired as a seventh-grade English teacher at a North Carolina school and worked to get her certification during the school year. “That first day, I thought I knew everything,” Little said. “It was tough, but it was great. It was the best job I’ve ever done at that time.

The following year, she was team leader and became even more involved with her students. “I quickly learned that building relationships with kids would basically get you where you needed to go with them,” Little said.

Move to Maryland
Little taught for four and a half years in North Carolina before her husband’s job search led her to apply for positions in the Washington, DC metro area. They were young and married for only a few years. “Why not just move,” Little asked. She opened an old-fashioned map and marked out the areas around the district. “I applied to Fairfax County. I applied to Montgomery County. I applied to Prince George’s County and I applied to Charles County,” she said.

“I applied to Charles County on a Tuesday and got a call Thursday,” Little said. Coming from North Carolina, Little and her husband had a good feeling about traveling through Charles County. “It reminds us of home,” she said. “That’s how we felt when we arrived in La Plata.” It was December and Little started as a language arts teacher at Mattawoman Middle School in January.

When North Point High School was preparing to open in 2005, Yolanda Hume, a CCPS language arts teacher and Little’s neighbor, encouraged her to take a job at the new school. The first students would still be mostly middle school students (North Point opened in 2005 for students in grades six through ninth) and Hume thought Little would be a good fit as a teacher at the school. . “You have so much leadership potential,” Hume told him. Flattered by what Hume saw in her, Little applied and got the job at North Point. She was only there shortly before another opportunity presented itself – a chance to be the gifted education resource teacher at General Smallwood Middle School. By then, Little had her master’s degree from McDaniel College as well as an Administration I certification, and Cynthia Baker, then Smallwood’s principal, encouraged Little to consider taking the next step.

“I love being in class with the children. It’s my comfort zone,” Little said. “I don’t know if I always wanted to be an administrator, but I always wanted to do different things.” Little was ready for a new challenge and started as an assistant principal first at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School and then at John Hanson Middle School. Few knew about the college and the students in this age group. “They’re different every day, you don’t know who you’re going to get,” she said. “There are a lot of opportunities to work with students because of that.”

Six years ago, Little moved to Lackey as vice-principal and learned that high school students were a little more comfortable with who they are, or at least working to find out. “Some will come to you not knowing who they are or what they want,” Little said. “They come to you to help them understand and it’s the tough conversations – ‘What do you want to accomplish? What mark do you want to leave in the world? We start there and head back.

His colleagues see how Little interacts with students and his impact on them. “It’s obvious that his real passion lies in working with students,” Lackey’s athletic director John Lush wrote in the application materials. He added that she was not afraid to have difficult conversations with students and staff and had a strong set of values. “She demonstrates these values ​​to shape the character of many young men and women while making Lackey a better community for students and staff,” Lush said.

Embrace Charger Pride
“What sets Ms. Little apart is her ability to forge positive interpersonal relationships with students, staff, parents and community members,” Lackey principal Kathy Perriello wrote in the documents. of candidacy. “She always extends understanding, honesty and humor. She treats our Charger students like her own and cares enough about them to have tough, difficult and courageous conversations.

In addition to guiding students through their high school years, Little is also the go-to person for staff members who need a mentor or guidance, Perriello added. “Ms. The ‘full package’ is little,” Lackey Vice Principal Tamra Nissen wrote. .Lackey.

Little’s ability to see and hear all sides of an issue is appreciated by staff, parents and, most importantly, students. “She quickly resolves any issues that arise and does so fairly for everyone involved,” wrote Darrian Carter, a 2022 Lackey graduate. Chris Cooley, a recent Lackey graduate, agreed. “She’s relaxed, but she can keep it real,” he said. “I know that if I have a problem, I can go to Ms. Little for a fair outcome. She is supportive, but she also has high expectations for me. Besides listening to them and helping them talk about conflicts or concerns, students appreciate how Little goes out of her way to brighten their day.” She never fails to say a kind word like ‘Hello’ or ‘I like your hair,'” wrote Leah Robinson, a senior rising star of Lackey. “Such a simple ‘Good morning’ can make or change my day. I can count on Mrs. Little to be there when I need that spark.

This care and concern does not end with graduation. Little forges strong relationships with students that continue long after their high school years are over. Students – especially those who have started in the field of education – always contact her for advice. The last two years have left many doubts about their career future. A former student who is now an elementary school teacher in a neighboring county recently called Little to express her frustrations with teaching. Little listened and then offered, “There’s a reason you got into education. You have a bigger gift than this year,” she said. “You are going to have difficult years, but you are going all the way. The good news is that the year is almost over and you can start thinking about things you can put in place for next year to make sure you don’t have the same issues or have a plan in place. place for when they show up. ”

Little hires a former graduate student from North Point’s culinary arts program to bake cakes for family celebrations – a family that includes her husband, Erico; son, Devin, a 2022 North Point graduate who is heading to his mother’s Fayetteville State University in the fall; and her daughter, DeLaney, a rising seventh-grader. Little meets former students both professionally and when she is out in the community. It’s these kinds of relationships that Little cultivates and builds with students that she says make the hours of investment “worth it” for her and her peers. “These ‘kids’…they always reach out to us,” Little said. “That’s the best thing about it: the relationships you build with the students and the fact that it matters. »