When Mackenzie Tilma, Assistant Teacher, is in the classroom, you are likely to hear the happy notes of…A UKELELE? “I always like when the children get excited when I bring my ukulele to play songs for them,” said Mackenzie. “They are always suggesting songs I need to learn to play. We keep multiple toy ukuleles in the classroom so the children can play along with me.”
Mackenzie officially joined the Rainbows’ team in 2017, but her ties to Rainbows go way back. Her uncle, Steve Cox is a longtime friend of the organization, serving on the Board of Directors and Committees for almost 20 years. Mackenzie also has personal experience with Rainbows through her cousin who received services as a young child.
“Mackenzie has been one of the most pleasant staffing surprises I’ve had during my time at Rainbows,” said Michelle Croomes, Early Care and Education Coordinator. “She initially presented as so shy and quiet, I wondered how much she’d even speak in the classroom. As she became more comfortable and confident in herself she has absolutely blossomed! Her interactions with the children are patient and funny, plus her talent with music is truly something special.”
Mackenzie starts work at 7 a.m., so she gets to see the children when they arrive every morning. The children always enjoy helping the teachers get the classroom and the activities ready for the day. Each day Mackenzie teaches literacy, math, science, art, and many other activities.
“I love being around the children and seeing them learn something new,” said Mackenzie. “I enjoy being in the classroom because anything can happen, and the children do the funniest things. Sometimes it gets a little crazy but it’s always fun.”
Mackenzie has her Child Development Associate Credential, and is pursuing her Elementary Education degree at Wichita State University through the online Teacher Apprentice Program. She plans to teach preschool after graduation. “I’m really excited for Mackenzie to complete her teaching degree through the WSU TAP program,” said Michelle. “She’s turned out to be a real natural working with children.”
Mackenzie enjoys going to the lake during the summer and spending time with family. She has a cat, dog and hamster. The hamster, whose name is Clover, sometimes comes to visit the kids in her classroom. Mackenzie loves playing card games, ukulele and pickleball, and she likes anything to do with arts and crafts. Her favorite holiday is April Fool’s Day, so watch out.