Aloha, Talofa and Malo e lelei! My name is Ioane Semisi Tongi. I am from the friendly island of Tonga and Samoa. I am known at Lincoln Academy as the only “Mr. T.” I was born in Western Samoa but was raised in Tonga. I am half Tongan, and half Samoan. Growing up on an island has made me appreciate everything I have today. I come from a large family. I have one brother and five sisters. I love to play rugby and basketball. I graduated from Liahona High School and attended Brigham Young University – Hawaii. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from BYU Hawaii and a Master’s degree from Grand Canyon University – Arizona in Special Education. While attending BYUH, I worked as a professional dancer at the Polynesian Cultural Center and this is how I paid for my tuition. I danced in the canoe show and night show. Later as a supervisor at the theatre department, I had the opportunity to teach others how to dance. At BYU – Hawaii I met my lovely wife, Elizabeth Tinney, from Georgia. We were married in Laie, Hawaii and now have three children (2 boys and a girl) and we love them with all our hearts. Both of our sons go to Lincoln Academy and they love it.
After graduating from BYU Hawaii, we moved to Georgia. While working as a substitute teacher there, I soon realized I was supposed to be a teacher. I also had the opportunity to work with students who had severe learning disabilities. In these capacities, I soon realized how much I love helping people. I worked in the Georgia school system for two years. Several years later we moved to Utah. I worked as a Math teacher at Copper Hills Youth Center for two years teaching troubled youth from different states. Witnessing the changes that take place in the students’ lives was the true payoff for me. I love to help others reach their potentials. While teaching at Copper Hills Youth Center I received my special education license from Weber State University. Getting my special education license gave me the opportunity to work with special needs students at Lincoln Academy for 4 years and loved it. I had been teaching at Lincoln Academy for 6 years going into my 7th year this school year. This is my 3rd year teaching junior high math. I am excited for the opportunity to learn and know each student in all my math classes. My goal is to help my students be successful in Math and continue to spark their interests and love for Math.
My parents taught me that education was critical to our future. They were both teachers. My father was also a principal. I remember when I was a high school senior, I took the University entrance exam and I didn’t do well. I remember vividly what my mother said to me, “Why are the other kids making it and you can’t do it? You can do it too! They are no different than you.” Today as I look back on those words of advice it allows and motivates me to climb the mountains and reach for the stars and moon. It was a special learning experience for me. As I look back to that moment, I thought about how imperative that moment was for me, and how that had an impact on my future.
When I interviewed for Lincoln Academy, I knew that this was a special place and I needed to be here. The staff is great and very supportive of each other. I know that they are very talented and have a lot to offer to these kids. I know that as we work together, we will be able to help our kids achieve their academic goals and dreams.
I know that as parents we definitely want the best for our children. My hope is to help and influence these students to be the BEST they can be and that they will be able to KNOW that they can do anything in the world if they BELIEVE and WORK HARD for it. I believe that education will enable them to reach their ultimate goals in life. As we work hand in hand to help our kids, we will be able to win the battle. Let’s have a great time and make every school year a memorable time for our students!