Mrs. Toni Berthiaume: A Dedicated Teacher


Teaching is challenging; it requires a vast knowledge of a subject, an interest in the subject one teaches, attention to detail, the ability to plan ahead and adapt plans when they don’t work out, a sense of humor (helpful, but not required), patience, etc. The most important characteristic of being a teacher though, is having compassion for students. And a teacher who embodies this characteristic at Tantasqua is Mrs. Berthiaume. 

One of Tantasqua’s science teachers, Berthiaume hadn’t always planned on being a teacher. Originally her dream career was being an X-Ray technician. She went to medical school, was employed in a hospital, but it wasn’t what she expected. She found that working at the hospital wasn’t enjoyable, since it seemed as though “people were no longer people; they became ‘parts of the body,’” and so she decided to look for a new career path. Around the same time, Berthiaume married her husband, who was already a teacher. He was the one who first inspired her to teach, and Mrs. Berthiaume “found out really fast that it was one of the hardest jobs ever.”

Berthiaume wasn’t always a TRHS teacher, either. She first taught at a learning prep school in Boston, moved on to Tantasqua Regional Junior High School, and then advanced to the high school. Since becoming a teacher, she’s taught Physical Science; Biology; her favorite subject, Anatomy and Physiology; and fortunately, only one Geometry class. She’s learned that “the path you… never thought you would take…ends up being the best path for you,” and those words are what she tries to share with her students. 

The art of being a good teacher is ironically a skill that’s learned, and many teachers end up with different styles of teaching. There’s a lot of trial and error, which is why Mrs. Berthiaume would say that the best thing she has learned from her students has been patience. Calling her students “the best part of her job,” Berthiaume knows she’s always be thankful for them. She has equated the love she has for her students to the love she feels for her own children, saying “I love watching them grow, [and] succeed… They make me laugh, shake my head, [and] pull my hair out.” Her boisterous nature and pleasant personality make her classroom a safe and exciting place to be. 

One of her favorite classes to teach is Anatomy, as the topic of it has always been something with which Berthiaume has been fascinated. It spurred her interest in being a physician, and it’s now her motivation for teaching kids. She wants to teach people about people. She believes that everyone “should be able to relate to it.”  The goal of her class is to educate and answer the questions of “How [does] our body work? What happens when there are issues?” So that students can be confident and assertive when responding to inquiries about their own or others’ bodies. 

Mrs. Berthiaume’s favorite way to teach students is with hands-on methods. “Any and all dissections” are the lesson plans of choice in her class. While laboratory activities (or labs) allow for her animated and lively lessons, it also allows for the “exploration of content,” an extremely important piece of learning anatomy. Mrs. Berthiaume is great at her job, and her former student, Zoë Andersen even said, “…I love that her class is hands-on and that we got to see what we were learning about. I think of all the classes I’ve taken anatomy is my favorite.”

Tantasqua is lucky to have such a dedicated science teacher, and while the medical field is definitely at a loss without her, we are grateful to have her here.