Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 2:41 PM on Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rylyn Jazzy Todd: Combines academics, sports, helpfulness

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Rylyn Todd and her best friend, Nikita

Asked about her favorite subject, Rylyn Jazzy Todd, a fifth-grade student at West Homer Elementary School, quickly replied writing and reading top her list. She just finished the latest in the series "Warriors," and her eyes light up when describing it.

The eyes of this 10-year-old light up for a lot of subjects, however, reflecting an enthusiasm for school, sports, the outdoors and providing a helping hand when needed.

"She's a very strong academic student and also a good athlete," said Ray Marshall, WHES principal. "She gives 110 percent to academics and she's so helpful to other students. She's always a person who will go and help people."

Rylyn credits her interest in academics to the teachers she's had, beginning with Jeannie Owen's daycare the first four years of her life. Then there was Kim Duggar's preschool and kindergarten through second grade at Paul Banks Elementary School with teachers Betsy Kirby, Linda Satre and Rebecca Boone. Since starting classes at WHES, she's had Lyn Maslow, Carole Demers and now Katharine Bynagle.

"I've had some really great teachers, really special people in my life, a lot of good friends," said Rylyn, including in her list Deb Lowney, artist and coach of the Homer High School Lady Mariners basketball team; Debbie Turkington, secretary at Paul Banks; and Jocelyn Shiro-Westphal, with whom Rylyn studies dance.

She also includes her parents, Mickey and Wendy Todd. Mickey currently teaches weight training and welding at Homer High School; Wendy teaches first grade at Paul Banks. Through them Rylyn was introduced to soccer at an early age.

"She learned to walk on the soccer field," said Wendy.

In addition to soccer, Rylyn also enjoys softball, two sports that offer "exercise and getting to have a team, you get to engage with teammates," said Rylyn.

An avid snowmachiner and four-wheeler, Rylyn depends on those modes of transportation to carry her and her parents to their cabin on Moose Horn Lake. Her snowmachine also comes in handy on hunting expeditions.

"I have a little pink .22 and use it to hunt spruce hen and ptarmigan," she said.

Other activities in which Rylyn is involved include paying the guitar, singing and cross-country skiing.

At the top of Rylyn's list of friends is her dog, Nikita, a 7-year-old husky that came to live with the family when just a pup and has become Rylyn's skijoring partner.

Looking toward the future, Rylyn is considering teaching at the kindergarten or first-grade level.

"I want to grow up to be a teacher like my mom. I've gone into Mom's class a lot and helped out there, and I've gone to friends' houses that have little sisters and brothers, so I know (that age group) a lot," she said of experience helping shape her goals.

Her experiences also have developed an awareness of the needs of others.

"She's certainly an individual person, with her own personality and a love for helping others," said her dad, Mickey Todd. "I think that comes from being around school. She loves to help kids and be involved."

"She's 100 percent helpful and responsible," said her mother, Wendy. "And she's pretty fun to be with."

Rylyn's name is a story in itself. Her first name is a feminine version of Ryan, chosen by her parents in honor of a family member who died of SIDS when eight months old. Her middle name comes from one of her parents' all-time favorite students.

"Whenever I go somewhere and meet somebody new, they say, 'That's a really nice name,'" said Rylyn.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.