Deputy becomes a teacher

September 1, 2006
Reported by Pam Dixon

You once might have described Jo Tartaglia as a crime fighter with a lot of class. Tartaglia says, "You see life in real time and you see life as it is."

Now Tartaglia has a class of her own at S.J. Welsh Middle School. Tartaglia says, "This is where they are more vulnerable to getting involved things they don't need to be involved in or could harm them down the road. I feel like I have something to give at this age level."

Fresh out of college with a psychology degree in hand, Tartaglia first took a job at the Calcasieu Sheriff's Office. Three years later she was working as a campus cop when S.J. Principal Buzz Sarver spotted her and recruited her to teach 7th graders. Sarver says, "She came across to me as a very caring person, but also someone that was tough, and you need a compassionate disciplinarian especially when you're dealing with an at risk kid."

Tartaglia accepted the challenge and has spent the last four years in night classes getting her masters degree and teaching certification. She'll graduate again in December, already a pro at teaching. Tartaglia says, "In law enforcement you're involved in a child's life after a crisis has already happened, but in teaching hopefully when you become involved in a student's life you can make a positive difference and you can circumvent or prevent the crisis from happening."

For this former officer of the law, laying down the law in her own class seems to come naturally. Tartaglia says, "I have something to give at this age level. This is where my heart is."

Monday we'll look at the program at McNeese that is helping people in one career become teachers. It's called "Teach Southwest Louisiana."