Social studies teacher Tinkelman does it all

Social studies teacher Ilsa Tinkelman didn’t expect dating advice when she began her career in teaching.

When Tinkelman subbed for social studies teacher Matthew Axelrod at age 22, a student jokingly suggested she should date a student’s brother with the last name Winkeljohn, eventually leading to the hyphenated last name Tinkelman-Winkeljohn.

“I have a pretty funny last name,” Tinkelman said, “and that was pretty clutch.”

Tinkelman does it all: she has been teaching at Marshall for four years, she co-sponsors Model UN and at the same time is pursuing her master’s at George Mason University. Currently she takes two political classes: one in comparative politics and one on nuclear weapons in the Cold War.

As a government major, she has a deep interest in foreign relations, which led her to teach at Marshall and continue taking classes in the field. For her most recent assignment, she wrote a 12-page paper on the Kennedy Administration and Israeli government.

“As a student and a teacher you have to be prepared when you step into a classroom,” Tinkelman said. “They are both learning experiences.”

Tinkelman learns from her peers and teachers in grad school; however, in the classroom, students seek her knowledge and friendship.

“I think I get … street cred for trying to understand students,” Tinkelman said. “My job, however, is not to be their friend all the time, but to teach.”

When Tinkelman first started teaching at Marshall, she first noticed the school’s strong sense of community.

“The culture of the school as a result of that diversity is so accepting and so open to both new people and new ideas,” Tinkelman said.

Tinkelman’s busy and academic-centered life can leave her with only a little room for hobbies.

“My life is basically reading your papers at school, writing them in class and going to concerts in between,” Tinkelman said. She plans on attending an upcoming local Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett show.

Tinkelman is an avid fan of many different types of music. In fact, she has been to a range of music festivals, including Bonnaroo and Coachella. Other musical interests include country artist Jake Owen and electronica artist Skrillex.

One might wonder what Tinkelman’s motivation is when faced with a hundred papers to grade.
Tinkelman’s answer: “I think feeling like you can make a difference is what I love about government and about teaching.”