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Staff Spotlight: Tonya Ryan

Life can change quickly. This was a lesson that Tonya Ryan became familiar with as she transitioned out of an abusive marriage and into her new reality as a single parent for the first time after her son was born.  

While this was a sudden change, the universe was not done throwing curve balls her way. 

“I was literally at a garage sale,” said Tonya, smiling. “I met a couple who had just opened up a daycare. We were talking and they were like, ‘Why don’t you come in and check it out?’ and they hired me and here I am fourteen years later. You never truly know!” 

Tonya went on to become the director of that same school. Years later, she has found herself in her current role at The Nest Schools as Director of our new Lakeland location.  

She is excited to continue making a difference in the lives of young children and families. Years of prior childcare experience has brought nothing but positivity and love into her own life. “I still have some of my closest friends from when I was an infant teacher. The bond and connection you have with the families is everything.” 

Not only has Tonya gained an enjoyable career, but she has also learned so much about herself and what she enjoys doing to improve herself. “I like to be as humble as I can,” she comments. “As busy as I get, I make sure to stay humble and correct and learn from any mistakes I make along the way. I try to remember that.” 

Her own life experiences have led her to be the adaptable, compassionate, and understanding leader she is today. Knowing she and the teachers around her are happy and feel accomplished is a priority to her as she knows how crucial their role is in a child’s early learning experience. “We are setting that educational foundation,” said Tonya. “We have an important job to do.” 

She has enjoyed building on positive teamwork and spreading kindness among her colleagues throughout her career. So much so that she established a “Kindness Club” at her last school! When asked what she has loved about The Nest, she mentions that she loved the professional development days and ways that The Nest makes workdays fun. “The Funday Mondays really make you excited to come to work every week. I love it!” 

Overall, she has loved the provided curriculum. “The curriculum has let teachers focus on what they love to do: teach!” 

Tonya has also found comfort in talking to other women who have experienced the impact of domestic violence. “I go back, and I mentor women in the same shelter that we stayed at. I want to provide hope that you can get out of your past and you never know where you may be at or what opportunities will be brought to you.” 

She has loved finding herself again after years of focusing on her career and raising her children. Tonya has recently enjoyed taking long walks for herself and has subsequently lost 50lbs. Finding personal wellness for herself has been a great journey for her throughout life’s unexpected changes.  

And if there is one thing that Tonya knows well, it’s that life can change quickly. 

We are so lucky to have Tonya on our team and know she will be a fantastic director at our new Lakeland school. Congratulations again, Tonya!