Tiffany Kyser used to score points for the IUPUI Jaguars in "The Jungle" basketball gymnasium, becoming the only women's basketball player to have her jersey retired.
These days, Kyser is still making points, only this time it's as a member of a different team: as a language arts teacher and "Magic" team member at Lynhurst 7th and 8th Grade Center in the Wayne Township School District.
Once known as a hard-nosed defender on the basketball court, Kyser now "defends" against misuse of the English language, challenging her students to learn the intricacies of oral and written language, to express their imaginations and nurture their creativity.
Her classroom in the southwest Indianapolis school harkens back to her playing career; a duplicate of her framed number 44 uniform hangs just outside the entry, and she unabashedly shows off her Jaguar pride with numerous pennants, posters, brochures and photos of IUPUI athletics that make visitors aware of her alma mater.
Competitive by nature, Kyser uses that trait to educational advantage, encouraging her students to train their minds the way athletes train their bodies. For example, a bulls-eye on her classroom bulletin board highlights "Today's Targets" of study.
Education "is about setting goals, then working hard to achieve them," she says, noting that applies to both students and teachers. "I find myself constantly using the lessons I learned on the basketball court as well as the ones I learned in my classes to help my students reach their goals."