Teacher Lucy Tykal makes a splash in first year teaching


Megan Voorhees

Lucy Tykal dances at the front of her class during her economics class karaoke (photo Megan Voorhees)

It’s 5:00 A.M. and teacher Lucy Tykal slowly sips her coffee. The morning news plays in the background as the sun rises and the city stirs outside her Grand Rapids apartment window. 

Although she could wake up an hour later and still be perfectly on time for work, Tykal prefers a leisurely morning. Easing herself into the day before her commute allows her to be the best teacher she can be. 

Her drive and motivation to always be better continues throughout her day.

From one conversation I could tell there was something inviting about her. With contagious laughter and energy similar to Jessica Day from the show, “New Girl”, Tykal illuminates any room she steps foot in.

There were many new staff members hired this year, but few have been talked about amongst students as much as Tykal. 

Some say it’s her approachability and others say it’s her impeccable story telling, but one way or another, Tykal creates a class environment that students want to be a part of. She believes this may be attributed to her outlook on teaching. 

“My goal every day is for kids to leave the classroom in a better mood than when they came in,” Tykal said. “Whether or not they learned a ton, or even one thing that day, I feel like if I made their day a little bit better, then I did my job.”

Tykal was first introduced to Grand Haven when she student taught under history teachers Thomas Puleo and Mark Robertson in 2019.

“It’s more about the culture than it is about the content. That’s kind of the shift in education right now going towards teaching students to be good people, not just teaching them economics.””

— Lucy Tykal

Puleo reached out to Tykal when a teaching job became available. He has always noticed something special about her and the energy she brings to the learning environment. 

“She had a really upbeat personality from day one and that’s something that never changed,” Puleo said. “I would describe her as energetic, but she’s much more than that. She exemplifies hard work and dedication in the classroom.” 

Tykal is extremely grateful for her return. She appreciates her students’ hard work and drive.

“These kids care about their coursework,” Tykal said. “They want to do well, for the sake of doing well. This is such a positive academic environment. Students here think more positively about grades, it’s not considered lame or stupid to care”

When asked why she thinks students enjoy her classroom so much, Tykal remarked that it may be because of her youth and relatability to the kids.  

“I remember High School vividly,” Tykal said. “I’m not super far removed. I’m just out of college, I’m used to having insane amounts of homework every night. I remember what it’s like to be a two-sport athlete and try to come home after swimming and get my work done.”

Students agree with this, including Junior Poppy Balkema, who has Tykal for Economy. 

“She is such an energetic teacher and has this contagious energy,” Balkema said. “She keeps the classroom a super safe and calming environment and understands the stress many students may be facing.”

Tykal believes that her generation of teachers is revolutionizing the educational field, with stronger focus on mental and social well-being than ever before. She tries to show her students that they are free to be themselves and ask for help. 

“I am willing to share embarrassing stories and I genuinely think that if kids can see that, none of the embarrassing stuff matters,” Tykal said. “It’s more about the culture than it is about the content. That’s the shift in education right now. Teaching students to be good people, not just teaching them economics.”