Tricia Crnilovic - Prefirst Teacher - About - McDonogh School

Tricia Crnilovic, Prefirst Teacher

Photographer: Joey Hortiz ’25

What inspired you to become a teacher?

My mother was a teacher, and I believe that she inspired me to walk in her footsteps. Teaching was an activity I adored playing with my sister while growing up. Lo and behold, that play turned into my career, my calling, and my passion.  

Why did you choose the subject area that you teach?

I've taught grades PK through fourth over the past 18 years here at McDonogh School. I have enjoyed all of the grades and the students within those grades. However, the “Littles,” those in early childhood grades, speak to my heart. I love their innocence, curiosity, empathy, compassion, and love of school and one another.  

What do you find most rewarding about teaching and working with students?

In my opinion, teaching is the most rewarding profession in the world. There is no other situation, day in and day out, where passion, care, and joy are shared between all parties, from children to adults. In my heart, I feel that no matter how big or small a moment of growth and success, we all end our day with gratification. 

How do you connect with and engage students in the learning process?

My belief is that we have to learn how to lead and follow as adults, and, with that, we have to be flexible in our guidance. These young learners come with their own unique skills, strategies, ideas, thoughts, and understanding. I lead with an open heart and ear. I truly want each child to know that they are seen, heard, loved, and cared for unconditionally.  

What do you hope students will take away from your classes or your mentorship?

As I say each day, “Be safe, kind, and respectful no matter where you go!” I truly believe in those ideas…to treat yourself, others, and our environment with safety, kindness, and respect. If those things are at the forefront of what we do throughout our days, everything else will fit into place.  

What are some of your favorite books, movies, or quotes that inspire you?

Favorite book: The Giving Tree and A Light in the Attic 

Favorite quotes:
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” - Dr. Seuss

“Today you are you, it is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!” - Dr. Seuss

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken!” - Oscar Wilde

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!” - Dr. Seuss

Do you have a favorite place on campus? What makes it your favorite?

My favorite place on campus is wherever my kids are, and when alone, I love the area outside of Elderkin and at the top of Childs Memorial Terrace. That was the first space I walked through in 2005 when I came to interview as an associate kindergarten teacher. I’ll never forget that feeling of walking up the walkway and through the joyful and laughing children that were outside. 

How do you recharge and find inspiration when you’re not in the classroom?

I love to take walks and let Mother Nature help me reset. I also love to be around friends and family. They help me recharge through conversation, thought, laughter, and love. 

Beyond the classroom, what are some of your interests or hobbies that you’re passionate about?

I love being near the water, especially at a beach. I also love singing and dancing, and just being around people. I’m passionate about people—connecting people, listening to and helping people, and creating memories with people. In addition to my students, my family and friends, old, new, and in between, bring the most joy.