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Portal history teacher has history of her own
Patsy Tankersley works with heart condition
Pat Tankersley for Web
Patsy Tankersley is shown in her office at Portal High School. Tankersley is back teaching after undergoing a heart procedure in August. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/special
    There is a history teacher at Portal High School who has quite a history, herself. Her name: Patsy Tankersley, lifelong Portal resident who graduated salutatorian from Portal High in the 1960's. Her mom, Grace, and her father, D.L. Tankersley have lived in Portal all their lives.
    Her son, Lee Woodcock, and his wife, Lori Ann, live and work in the Portal area. In fact, while Lee works for a concrete company, Lori Ann teaches at Portal Elementary School. Patsy got her college education at Georgia Southern University.
    Her first Bachelor's Degree was in business education, while her second was in business administration. Tankersley then went on to get a Master's in education with a specialization in the social sciences, 6th through 12th grades.
    After Tankersley graduated, she opened an H & R Tax office in Statesboro, eventually selling the franchise a number of years later. She then ran a private accounting firm, until she had an epiphany: young people had no clue about managing money.
    So, she made a life career change. First, she taught accounting classes at Ogeechee Tech, but she thought the students probably were too old to learn the basic necessities of financial survival.
    She then went to work at Bryan County High School in Pembroke for four years, teaching history and geography, with some accounting thrown in. She finally got the job of her dreams.
    Then Portal Principal Joanne Radcliff hired Tankersley to teach United States history and economics courses, a most unusual mix of subjects. After more than a decade of doing just that, her whole life changed when she developed a serious medical condition.
    She was diagnosed with a virus that could cause sudden death through fatal heart arrhythmias. Tankersley chose to have both a pacemaker and a defibrillator installed in her chest in August, to maintain a regular heart beat and to restart it if it stopped.
    After a short recovery period, Tankersley returned to her Portal classroom to teach regular and Advanced Placement classes in American history and economics.
    About her students, Tankersley said: “You couldn't ask for a better group of young people for the way they're working with me and responding to my illness. The staff here has been wonderful, too.”
    Concerning her love for teaching American history, Tankersley said: “You've got to tell 'em stories, and capture their attention. Once you do that, you've got 'em.”
    Tankersley continued, “It is extremely important that we teach our children to learn from the mistakes of the past, so they can avoid making the same mistakes themselves in the future.”
    Tankersley is very passionate about teaching the students economics, saying that lessons in personal financial management should be a major focus of every high school student.
    Tankersley addresses subjects as varied as the pitfalls of use of “plastic cash” (IE: Credit Cards) to the necessity of developing a realistic idea of one's earning potential in order to help the students prepare for living in the “real world.”
    Tankersley also teaches the “Summer Graduation School,” helping students who don't pass the High School Graduation Test prepare to take the test again.
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