TPS superintendent defying tragedy, staying motivated for students and families

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Tiffany Anderson is the first black woman to lead Topeka Public Schools. But it’s been a difficult few years as tragedy struck, and obstacles were thrown her way, she continued to stay motivated for you, and your children.

Tiffany Anderson walks the halls of more than 30 Topeka Public Schools, like State Street Elementary School, learning about students, teachers and staff.

“I see my role as a teacher,” Anderson said. “And so, while I have the title of superintendent, I really am a teacher. I’m a blessing in a lesson every day, and I think we all have that teaching role in us. No matter what jobs we have.”

Something other superintendents might not do. To Anderson, her job is about knowing the people, and families, she is serving to help them better.

“She wants to really make an impact,” said La Manda Broyles, State Street Elementary School Principal. “And it doesn’t matter if it’s an impact for students, it’s an impact for staff. It’s an impact for community members. And I think that’s what makes her continuously stand out. And continuously be honored. Because she’s so deserving.”

But at one point, not everything was as happy as it seems. In August of 2017, more than a year into her new role her husband died. Dr. Stan Anderson passed away after a fight with multiple myeloma cancer. Leaving her to lose the love of her life, but not her motivation.

“My husband certainly was, and continues to be the joy of my life,” Anderson said. “But I know that the next 24, or 44-years to come are also going to be victorious with whatever is ahead.”

This attitude, something La Manda Broyles tearfully admires.

“To know that she did so, so authentically, she was hurt,” Broyles said. “She lost and she grieved. But she also continued to put others first”

Anderson remembers her husband every day, but also remembers to focus on her faith and the Topeka community. Even putting her tragedy to the side to help someone else.

In the summer of 2018, Anderson’s colleague Brandy Griego lost her home in a fire. To Brandy’s surprise, Anderson secretly purchased a house, letting Griego and her two boys stay there rent-free for six months.

“She’s somebody that, if you need help, you need an opinion, you just want a prayer, Dr. Anderson is the one to go to,” Griego said. “And just say, ‘help’. You know, pray for me. Give me advice. Anything. She is always there.”

And always there for students as well. Since being superintendent, Anderson started two programs to help better students in their futures. One, being the College Prep Academy, and an internship program, that allows students to work in the district after graduating high school.

Former and current students say through these programs, and the help of Anderson, they see her as a friend, because she motivates them in school and out of school.

“It’s always been continuous with her, which I appreciate,” said Angelica Brown, a former student and the first student to go through Anderson’s internship program. “Because most people, they don’t stay at that forefront with you. And that’s exactly what Dr. Anderson does. She stays at that forefront.”

Anderson says her story, and the effort she puts into the Topeka Public Schools isn’t about her. But about the students, the families and the excellent education she wants for the community.

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