BOONEVILLE, Miss. – Northeast Mississippi Community College modern foreign language instructor Jeff Tuttle wants the learning experience to be a lifelong connection with one’s discipline.
Under Tuttle’s direction, the Northeast modern foreign language education has become just that and Tuttle will be honored as the Northeast Mississippi Community College Humanities Teacher of the Year during a ceremony held in the Claude Wright Room on the second floor of the Haney Union at 10:50 a.m. on Tuesday, October 29.
A small reception for special guests, administration and faculty and staff will follow the ceremony.
As part of being selected as the Northeast Humanities Teacher of the Year, Tuttle will deliver a keynote address of his choosing “Humanities: Lifelong Connections,” during the ceremony where the modern foreign language instructor will talk about how humanities have helped shape not only his teaching philosophy but his life as a whole.
In addition to being honored by the college, Tuttle will also attend the Mississippi Humanities Council at the Mississippi Humanities Council Annual Awards Dinner in Jackson on February 28, 2014 where he will receive a certificate and a monetary supplement for being chosen as Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Humanities Teacher of the Year.
Tuttle grew up just east of Oxford and found his love for humanities at an early age when his mother would take him to the local public library; but after a time, it was Tuttle who was asking to go to the library on his own and a love of humanities was formed.
After graduating from Lafayette County High School with honors, Tuttle earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and settled on teaching English in secondary education.
However, fate soon intervened and led Tuttle on his path to a modern foreign language educator.
Just a year after taking his first teaching job, Tuttle was asked to start a Spanish course for the high school he was working for at the time and the Lafayette County native returned to school to receive emergency certification in the discipline.
An expedition into teaching Spanish in high school was not the end of Tuttle’s journey as the Lafayette County native continued to learn about the Spanish language and ended up liking it better than teaching English.
“The basis is different,” Tuttle said. “It’s not like anything you will ever teach or study. You are constantly learning. You do not ever learn everything about it.”
After almost a decade in the high school ranks, Tuttle ventured out into the private business arena and landed a job with the FMC Corporation as a customer service representative and also aided in the international company’s Latin American sales.
Tuttle’s time with the FMC Corporation also allowed the Spanish speaker to travel and immerse himself into the language.
Tuttle’s immersion into the language is also multi-fold for the Lafayette County native as a New York Times’ article entitle “Why Bilinguals are Smarter,” by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee points out.
In Bhattacharjee’s piece, ones that speak more than one language are more likely to be able to multitask better because while the mind is processing a language in one form, the brain is also thinking in the other language as well – helping the person to retain as much information as possible.
Tuttle has seen this connection happen first-hand and knows that being able to speak more than one language is one of the keys to a successful person.
Tuttle sees the advantages of being bilingual as being able to help others, opening up career opportunity doors and educating people about other cultures.
By being able to speak Spanish, Tuttle has been able to provide a valuable resource in the missionary field as well and has served on missions to the Central American countries of Honduras and Belize.
While his main mission was to help engage the community through medical, spiritual or physical means, Tuttle was able to provide one of the resources that served as a barrier between the missionaries and native Central Americans – being able to speak the native language and translate it into the missionary’s language.
Tuttle job as an interpreter on mission trips included helping to bring medical aid to the less fortunate by serving as the liaison between medical personnel and those seeking medical attention. He has also brought his Spanish speaking skills to the missionary’s front and served as an interpreter for Bible classes.
Nonetheless, Tuttle sees a rise in the need for people to learn more than one language and be as marketable as they can be whether it’s learning languages from certain geographic regions such as Asia or Arabia to learning Spanish to help with the language barrier. Tuttle has even helped local government agencies as an interpreter.
One of Tuttle’s main goals as a modern foreign language teacher is to see his students use what he taught in the classroom in real life.
“I want them to use it. Whether it’s a year or multiple years, I want them to use it because if someone doesn’t use it, it goes away,” Tuttle said. “I want them to be as engaged as possible with it even if it is later in life and it comes back to them.”
Tuttle understands that mastering another language is a tough task, but the modern foreign language instructor realizes that the risks are worth the rewards.
“I don’t want them to settle for less or take the easy road,” Tuttle said. “It will pay off in the long run. A secondary language is a skill someone can learn but to be fluent in it takes years. Not many can be fluent in it by taking just four semesters of two years of it, it’s a lifelong connection.”
When not immersing himself in a modern foreign language, Tuttle has helped lead choir and music groups in a church setting for over 25 years and currently assists East Marietta Baptist Church in Prentiss County.
His wife, Sheryl, is a tutorial special education instructor in Itawamba County. His son Bryan and daughter-in-law, Danielle, as well as his daughter Stephanie, are all officers on active duty with the US Air Force serving our country. His younger daughter, Stacy, is a student at NEMCC where she is pursuing admission into a medical program. The special little light of his life is his precious granddaughter, Sydney Beth.