A woman wearing a gray t-shirt that says Community of Peace Academy

We love to celebrate our members, and one of those members, Tasha Bokman, recently started her teaching career. She says she hopes to change the lives of the students she encounters.

Bokman is a recent St. Olaf College graduate (May 2021), and started her teaching career this last August as a health education teacher at Community of Peace Academy in Saint Paul. She has a degree focusing on social studies education as well as a psychology background. Bokman says she had a role model in high school who encouraged her to explore the world of education.   

“I thought about being a teacher a little bit throughout my life, but never really thought it was something I wanted to do until I had a really inspiring teacher,” said Bokman. “This teacher was from my junior year of high school, and she is the one who inspired me to go into teaching.”

Bokman teaches a broad range of topics in her field including: drug and substance abuse education, discussions on puberty, the importance of physical exercise, sex education, as well as stress and stress management. Yet, she says one the most rewarding aspects of teaching is having the opportunity to connect with students and get to know them better.

“I think the most rewarding part for me is getting to know the students and building relationships with them, even outside of the content I teach,” said Bokman. “I have students who will come into my classroom and eat lunch in my room, and I get to talk to them about things that aren’t always school related or things going on in their personal life, and that to me, is really rewarding.”

But with rewarding aspects, also comes some challenges, including teaching during a global pandemic. Bokman says there have been times the school has had to teach virtually, and one of the struggles is having to deal with social barriers when returning to the classroom.

“The biggest thing I’ve noticed, and the thing I’ve heard from other teachers, is the barriers students face socially when they’re coming back from a distance learning setting and not being used to being with their peers,” said Bokman. “I would find that the students were quieter, so the biggest thing for me is to focus on their emotional and social development at this point.”

Despite challenges, Bokman says that aside from teaching health education, it’s important that she creates a safe space for her students to not only learn, but to grow as individuals; it’s something she herself learned in her earlier days of education.  

“What I remember from middle school and high school is less of the content and education, and more of the environment,” said Bokman. “The teachers created this safe space – those environments where students could express themselves and just be who they are. I think teachers are important of course for the education aspect, but also for the safe space they provide students.”

Bokman has banked with Affinity Plus since 2013, at the Faribault location. She says that she is a big fan of the credit union because of the sense of community and the credit union’s mission.

“I love the friendliness of the employees, Affinity’s values, and the volunteer work the company does,” said Bokman.

As for Bokman’s future? She says she will continue to teach for a few more years, but whatever she chooses to do, she says it will include students or young people in some capacity.

Thank you so much to our teachers! We appreciate all of the work you do and what you contribute to our communities!