Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Rediscovering her Passion

Posted 03/13/2024 by Amaris Medina

Every day Tocci greets her students with a smile and an open heart. photo by Emanuel Morales-Gomez

Throughout her years at TJ, Meghan Tocci has worked to reshape classrooms and build genuine connections with her students. 

At the end of the English hallway lies a teacher that is known by most but not by some. Meghan Tocci is an essential part of the Thomas Jefferson High school community. She has worked behind the scenes to create interesting learning environments for students within the school and across the district. Tocci has taught English at TJ for the past three years, teaching English 1, English 2, and more recently teaching Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition. 

Tocci’s passion was not always teaching. She received a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Public Relations with a minor in Creative Writing from James Madison University. After she graduated, Tocci worked as a communications director for a nonprofit in Charlotte, North Carolina, which aimed to provide services to children and families. She then spent almost four years as a marketing coordinator at Simple Texting where she managed “written content, producing client-facing materials, and facilitating the growth of the company via SEO-related tasks and routes.” When Tocci moved from North Carolina to Colorado she decided that it was the perfect opportunity to change career paths. She has always had a love for English and literature. Naturally, she felt that becoming an English teacher would be the best way to return to her true calling. The Colorado Board of Education offers an alternative teaching license that allows a school to sponsor a teacher for a year while they are going through a certification program. The downside of this is that a school needs to hire a teacher before they receive their alternative teaching license. In 2021 TJ granted the opportunity to Tocci to give a sample lesson to one of the English 2 classes. They then decided to hire her and her journey at TJ began. 

The past two years Tocci has taught a range of different levels, but her primary focus has been the freshman and sophomore level classes. This year Tocci got the opportunity to teach AP Language and Composition. Teaching this course provided her with an additional challenge that she wasn’t scared to face. “To be able to have that added level of rigor is something I was looking for,” Tocci notes. And when the occasion arose to work with Mr. Sheehan, she was glad to tackle the new curriculum. One of Tocci’s favorite things about teaching is creating new materials for her classes. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Colorado Denver in Curriculum and Instruction Pedagogy (designing and creating curriculum). When creating new materials she tries to make it fun and interesting for her students to acquire each concept. She explained how she loves that teaching has allowed her to “be creative and have a good outlet.” 

Tocci has a strong passion for student advocacy reform and she has made it her goal to put student voice at the forefront of everything that she does. Tocci is on the Everyday Equity team which works with school groups as well as the PTO to help fundraise for different school funding needs and making small accessibility changes around the school. Currently, she is working with the counseling department to bring back student peer language assistants. This would mean that students could earn five credits by being a peer assistant to students whose first language isn’t English. Introducing this will help bridge the gap between languages for non-native speakers and help them better understand the academic language in their classes. “Any sort of gap that you see between a student’s achievement and their intellectual abilities can be attributed to just not having the support that they need.” This offering will provide one-on-one support to these students in hopes that they can be further successful in their understanding. Tocci hopes to bring this to TJ and eventually expand to other schools in the district. This would benefit everyone involved from the non-native speaker, to the peer assistant, to the teacher. 

Anyone that has had Tocci as a teacher knows that she values making good connections with her students. Her eccentric and bubbly personality fills up her classroom with joy and laughter. Junior Carolina Jaimes Rodriguez had Tocci as her English teacher her freshman year and again for her junior year. “She is more than just a teacher, she can also be your friend. I can just come to her and she’ll always listen.” The classroom environment that Tocci has created is a large part of what makes her a good teacher. Junior Evie Kindell who had Tocci for English 1 and again this year for AP Lang adds that she loves the class environment. “I am able to work with my friends and have fun doing English work.” Tocci’s personal anecdotes of her life provide the class with a relatability factor. “I’m a sort of comic relief when I need to be. I don’t take things that need that level of seriousness too seriously,” Tocci states. When asked how Tocci would describe herself as a person she explains that, “I’m like the Lorax in a way. I’m tiny and bothersome and loud.” 

When not in the classroom, Tocci can be found engulfed in many different activities. “I’m a hobbyist at heart. I love an activity.” Tocci loves themed dinner parties, rock climbing, cooking, and traveling. Tocci even noted, “If you’re in the market and you know anybody who just wants to throw a vacation my way that would be major.” 

Tocci’s impact can be felt in and outside of the classroom. Her passion and love for literature has made her a successful teacher. While Tocci’s story at TJ is still being written, she is already making her impact known.