Mendocino College (MC) Learning Disabled Specialist/Instructor, Tascha Passof Whetzel, grew up in Ukiah and attended local schools. After graduating from Ukiah High School, she attended UC Davis, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development. She continued her education at Sacramento State University, where she earned a Master's degree in counseling with an emphasis in school psychology.
She began her professional career in Santa Clara County, where she worked as a school psychologist in the alternative schools department for three years. She moved to Tuolumne County to be near her fiancé Mike Whetzel, and as a result she commuted in a small plane from Columbia to San Jose to perform her job. She married Mike Whetzel in Colombia, CA, and their first child, Megan, now 16, was born there.
In 1995, the Whetzel family moved to Tascha's hometown, where she was employed as a school psychologist for Ukiah Unified School District (UUSD) for twelve years. Meanwhile, two more children joined the family: daughter, Shannon, now almost 13, and son Tanner, now 10. While working at UUSD, Whetzel worked part-time at Mendocino College in the evenings, helping Kathleen Daigle assess students (who requested it) for possible learning disabilities. When Daigle retired, she suggested that Whetzel apply for her job. Whetzel did, and she was hired full-time in 2008.
After assessing students, Whetzel evaluates the results to see whether the students meet the criteria for professional services through the Learning Disabilities (LD) Program. She also teaches study strategy classes, which assist students with verified learning disabilities to succeed in their other college classes. In addition, she teaches students who need it to use special adaptive computer software.
While in high school, Whetzel recalls working at the Alex Thomas pear sheds in the summers, and at "A Stitch in Time" during her senior year. She was a peer counselor while at UC Davis, and while at SSU, she served breakfast in the dorm cafeteria, and also worked as a gas station cashier.
Whetzel says that she always intended to work in education, but during an internship at UC Davis she discovered that working in a classroom with 30 kids was not for her. In looking at other possibilities, she found that the school psychologist program fit her experience and interests perfectly. She enjoys interacting with students and showing them ways to do better in school. She particularly likes working with college students, because they are so eager to succeed.
Whetzel describes her teaching style as very hands-on. She encourages students to focus on, and use, their strengths when studying—a strategy that works for everyone, she points out.
She likes the variety of her job, which includes teaching, assessing, analyzing data, and outreach to the community. Her biggest challenge is being the only LD specialist on campus. She makes it a point to collaborate with colleagues at other colleges whenever possible.
Whetzel thinks most people would be surprised to know that her family owns their own airplane! Her husband uses it for his business, but the family also uses it for occasional trips.
In her "free time," Whetzel serves as a community leader for 4-H, and as a Make-A-Wish Foundation wish grantor. As a wish grantor, she interviews the "wish" child to find out what the wish is, then she does the necessary paperwork, and goes back later to deliver the wish.
Whetzel sums up by saying, "Our three kids are all involved in 4-H and sports. That's what we do!"