Passionate about her students’ success, Joan J. Tatum’s philosophy was that if you feel that you want to teach, then the subject matter was not as important than being able to teach. Beginning her career in dance and education, she felt it did not matter whether it was a ballet arabesque or a technology computer program; she had a passion for sharing whatever her knowledge was with others, and teaching was the logical way to do that. Her mother did not have much formal education, but was passionate about its importance so education was where she felt she belonged. Ms. Tatum started her professional life as a substitute teacher within the Sarasota Public School District in Florida in 1966, remaining in this role for one year before joining Riverview High School as a business/vocational education teacher from 1969 to 1996 and an instructional technology facilitator from 1996 to 2002. During this time, she also served as a business/vocational education teacher at the Sarasota Technical Institute for a decade.
In addition to this tenure, Ms. Tatum was a secretary and administrative assistant for various government, business and community organizations between 1951 and 1959, as well as the co-owner and manager of a commercial business property from 1975 to 2014. She served as an adjunct professor at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, for multiple years and the curriculum coordinator for the business/vocational education department at Riverview High School from 1990 to 1996. Ms. Tatum also instructed a computer health course at National Louis University in Chicago from 1998 to 1999 and participated with the state and district textbook evaluation teams for the Florida Department of Education, among many other roles.
Prior to the start of her career, Ms. Tatum pursued a formal education at the University of Florida, earning an Associate of Arts in 1954. She then matriculated at the University of South Florida, where she attained a Bachelor of Arts in 1969 and Master of Arts in 1971. Additionally, Ms. Tatum is a certified secondary, adult education and educational technology teacher, and an associate master teacher of the Florida State Board of Education.
Active in her local community, Ms. Tatum has served the Woodbridge Estates Condominium Association in numerous roles including board member, treasurer, secretary, vice president and president since 2000. She also served on the supervisory committee of the Sarasota Coastal Credit Union from 1985 to 1998. Prior to these endeavors, Ms. Tatum was a studio owner and instructor between 1957 and 1967, as well as employed as part of the office staff and an instructor at various studios and a certified teacher through the Dance Masters of America. Moreover, she choreographed Riverview High School’s drama and music departments from 1971 to 1989.
Outside of her primary trade, Ms. Tatum served as the president of the Sarasota County Vocational Adult Association from 1989 to 1990, as well as served Alpha Delta Kappa in several roles between 1982 and 2004. Likewise, she has been the secretary, president and a board member of the Sarasota Retired Educators’ Association since 2005, and maintains involvement with several related organizations. In light of her achievements, Ms. Tatum was awarded the Masonic Youth Grand Cross of Color in 1949, and was named a Senate Education Scholar by the Sarasota High/Florida Legislature in 1951 and Teacher of the Year by Riverview High School from 1991 to 1992. Furthermore, she was selected for inclusion in several Who’s Who publications.