This is the second in a three-part, Q-and-A series profiling new employees at Marco Island’s schools. This installment addresses Tommie Barfield Elementary School. TBE has four new teachers for the 2021-2022 school year, including one who was born and raised on the island.
McGregor-Matthiesen is enjoying her recent return to the community from which she hails and becoming a third-grade teacher at TBE. A graduate of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, she is the daughter of Jim and Mari-Lynn McGregor, of Marco. Her siblings, older brother Reilly and older sister Shannon, both attended TBE.
Academic background: She has a B.S. in elementary education from the University of South Florida in Tampa and a master’s degree in reading education from Florida Atlantic University.
How long have you been with the Collier County Public School System and what is your previous teaching experience? This is her tenth year in education and her first with the Collier school system. After earning her masters, she taught for three years in Fort Lauderdale, then for one year in Louisiana, before teaching for three years in California and the last two in Texas. The moves were required for her husband Dan’s job, working in intercollegiate athletics.
What brought you back to Marco? “From the first time he (Dan) came here and visited, he said, ‘One day we have to move here.’ All of my family is here; my parents are here, my brother and his family are here, his wife’s family is here, my nieces and nephews. So, it was family that brought us back.”
How does it feel to return here to teach? “It’s the best feeling in the world. It just feels like everything came together at the perfect moment. I know that nothing is perfect right now in our world, but it feels like all the puzzle pieces laid out perfectly for me to even get this job on Marco. It’s a small town with only one elementary school so I feel very fortunate to come home because it does feel like home.”
Why did you enter teaching and what do you find fulfilling and enjoyable about the profession? “I entered teaching to change lives, to inspire kids and to make a difference. I find it fulfilling when you see kids just light up with excitement when they learn something new. I find it awesome when you can see the learning taking place, and you can see the growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. I also find it powerful to build relationships with the students, to learn about their families since oftentimes they write about their families. It’s just neat to get to know all these little people.”
Hobbies: I like to run, workout, to go the beach, read and I craft a lot.
If not an educator, what might your profession have been? Probably a nurse. It would be another way to help people.
Grade level you’re teaching? First grade.
Academic background: Graduated from Lely High School in 2013. Graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University this spring with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
How long have you been with the Collier County Public School System and what is your previous teaching experience? A guest teacher from 2019 to 2021. A student teacher/intern for four semesters.
What brings you to TBE? “I have always loved Marco and the memories I made with friends here. I wanted to be under leadership that would continue to build upon and expand my professional development as a first-year teacher.”
How does it feel to return to the classroom after last school year’s upheaval? “It’s an interesting dynamic working with first graders that have only ever known a COVID-protocol school environment. Only being halfway through my internships when COVID initially hit, I often feel like it’s all I’ve known, as well.”
Why did you enter teaching and what do you find fulfilling and enjoyable about the profession? “My passion is working with children/students. Knowing that I can make a difference in the life of a child is what drives me. Seeing children excited about books is always my highlight.”
Family: “I am a single parent to a first-grade child. We currently live in North Naples. The support and help of my family are what affords me the opportunity to teach here on Marco.”
Hobbies: “Going to the beach, volunteering at church functions, road trips, cooking new Pinterest meals.”
If not an educator, what might your profession have been? “A foster care social worker. Totally random, but real estate is another huge area of interest for me.
Grade level you’re teaching? Fifth grade.
Academic background: A bachelor’s in elementary education from Florida International University.
How long have you been with the Collier County Public School System and what is your previous teaching experience? “This is my first year with CCPS after teaching for 15 years in the Miami-Dade County School District.”
What brings you to TBE?“Relocated to Marco with my husband, Javier, and our daughters, Camila, 7, and Micaela, 9, who attend TBE.”
What brings you to Marco? “My husband’s brother has been here for about 20 years, and we decided it would be in the best interest of our family and our children to finally join the rest of the Benito crew on the West Coast. And it has been the best decision. If you had told me two years ago, I would have said, ‘No way, I’m leaving the big city,’ but I have never been happier.”
How does it feel to return to the classroom after teaching virtually last school year? “Amazing. I am so happy to be back, live, with students. Making a difference live with students is fulfilling, so I’m extremely happy.”
Why did you enter teaching and what do you find fulfilling and enjoyable about the profession? “To leave the world a little bit better place has always been important to me. I struggled a bit, even in college, choosing between nursing and education; both of them being jobs in which you offer something to the community. I had teachers who impacted me, and I knew that if I could do that for a child, then I would contribute to making the world a better place. Something I tell parents of students in my class is, ‘My job is to teach your child the curriculum, but if your child becomes passionate about learning and becomes a better person because I was their teacher, then I’m really doing my job.’ That is something I stand by.”
Hobbies: “We really enjoy anything that has to do with the water, the beach, boating and really, being with family. We’ve always been around my sister and my parents, and it’s been nice to spend time with nephews and my husband’s siblings now that we’ve moved to this side of the state.”
If not an educator, what might your profession have been? Nursing, hands-down.
Grade level you’re teaching? Fifth grade.
Academic background: Received B.S. and master’s degrees in education from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.
How long have you been with the Collier County Public School System and what is your previous teaching experience? “This is my first year with CCPS and it marks my return to the classroom after taking 10 years off to have children. I previously taught in the St. Louis, Missouri school system.
What brings you to Marco and TBE? “This is my community. We live on Marco Island, and I wanted to teach in a place where I could care for the children in the neighborhood.”
How does it feel to return to the classroom? “I love it, it gets great. I didn’t realize how much I was missing it.”
Why did you enter teaching and what do you find fulfilling and enjoyable about the profession? “I had some great teachers who were encouraging and helped me figure out my strengths and I want to do that for children, as well.”
Family: “My husband, Scott, is the pastor at Marco Presbyterian Church. We have four children, three who attend TBE and one at Marco Island Charter Middle School.”
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri.
Hobbies:“I love to spend time with my family, and I love gardening and reading.”
If not an educator, what might your profession have been? I think I would have liked to become a guidance counselor.