A remarkable story about a remarkable woman
Yesterday we announced the ABTA MPP Teacher of the Year. It was an incredible afternoon. Many of the teacher finalists attended the American Bridge Teacher Association Convention and for the award announcement many brought students who sat in rows with special name tags ready to provide encouragement for their teacher. Barbara Seagram had each finalist stand up and she read their story. Then she asked for the “envelope please!” (She told me that she had always wanted to say that.) The winner was announced and it was Tina Radding. Tina couldn’t believe it. She was speechless and in tears and shaking. She came up to the stage and could hardly hold the envelope with the prize money and her beautiful trophy while many people took pictures of her. When asked to say a few words after a few minutes to compose herself she told us that she didn’t even know she had been nominated for a long time. Her students just did it. She couldn’t believe that she had won. Let me tell you about Tina first and then come back to her speech.
Tina teaches in Charleston, South Carolina and I admit I will never drive by there again without thinking of her. She is a tiny wisp of a woman with enormous energy and as her students put it she has an enormous passion for the game and for all of them. She volunteered to teach classes to raise money to fix up the local Bridge Center so they now have bridge pads, a new sound system and so on. As a result of all of her efforts the games at the bridge center have really grown.
She is a great motivator because her students know she cares about them. She gets to know everyone personally. She is interested in their lives as well as their bridge game. She is an innovative teacher. She dresses up in all sorts of costumes to illustrate her lessons. My favorite is the princess costume she uses to illustrate that you should “wait on the princess who has the big 2 club bid”.
She gets the players going to tournaments, forms teams (and even makes dinner reservations), she organizes pro-am games and other events. At the tournament the students are in and out of her room as she helps them in every way they need and then they all eat together since they all want to be with Tina.
She will come in early to help a student out if they miss a lesson or otherwise need help and in every way she has transformed the bridge community.
Tina’s husband died recently in a plane crash. He volunteered to fly mercy air ambulance trips and also taught young people to fly.
Now back to Tina’s speech.
She told us that her husband was always interested in what she did even though he didn’t play bridge. He wanted to know everything that happened that day. When he died she knew that she should continue to teach and that would be alright. She didn’t want to let her students down. Bridge is everything to Tina and the bridge world is glad that she feels so very passionately about the game.
Then her students came on stage to congratulate her and people took pictures of all of them. And I know that I was not the only one in that room who was overcome with emotion.
I talked to some of the other finalists and their students. They were understandably disappointed although one of them had said it had been a wonderful ride. But everyone thought Tina was a wonderful winner.