Tara Hammer is now a teacher at Morgan Elementary School. Almost 21 years ago, she was Morgan High School senior Tara Wilkinson, featured in the Morgan County News as “Youth in the Work Force.”
She had been working at the local grocery store, Roger’s Thriftway, for almost two years. Hammer was a cashier and worked after school, juggling a schedule of activities that included playing on the girls volleyball team and being a dedicated student of dance (for 15 years) and piano (for 8 years), as well as attending church meetings and family activities.
Church and family are at the center of Hammer’s current schedule, she said. “I’ve tried to be supportive of my kids.” Through the years she has been a leader in their 4-H Club, a coach for their soccer teams, and taxi mom for their dance and tumbling classes and piano lessons.
Looking over the news article that was published April 6, 1992, Hammer compared how it was then to how it is now. She used to “enjoy playing classical music on the piano; camping; doing things with her family; spending time with her friends and boyfriend.”
Out of those hobbies, she still enjoys camping and doing things outdoors with her family. However, she doesn’t play the piano much anymore, maybe at Christmas time, her daughters have taken over the music.
Hammer’s goals were to “attend Weber State University, major in business, work in the business field, get married, have a family and be able to continue work if need be.”
Where is she as far as reaching her goals? After graduating from Morgan High School in 1992, she enrolled at Weber State University majoring in business. After two years, she became bored. Realizing that a business major wasn’t for her, she looked into other subjects of interest like social work and child development, then early childhood development. She soon discovered education was more interesting, so she changed her major. She found she loved teaching and working with children.
In the middle of her educational pursuits, she got married. It was while working at the store that she met Assistant Manager, John Hammer, whom she married in 1993. She continued to work at Roger’s for four more years, while attending college.
The goals of education and family began to intertwine as the couple welcomed their daughter Dani. A couple years later Jessica entered the picture. Very little college was missed when her daughters were born. Hammer took a lighter class load during this time.
Her goals were achieved through perseverance. With the help of her family and supportive husband, she graduated from WSU in 1999.
Nothing was holding Hammer back as her goals were becoming reality. What kept her going through this time? She recalled often thinking when it got difficult, “This won’t last forever. Everything will be O.K. Learn and grow from it.”
The doors of opportunity opened when Hammer started her student teaching in Davis County in the spring of 1998. The school district was in need of a kindergarten teacher that coming fall because of the overwhelming number of incoming students. The district asked Hammer if she would work the afternoon session of kindergarten even though she had not quite completed her credits for graduation. She took the job and was able to finish the required credits needed by taking her classes in the morning.
She taught in Davis County for two years. Following that she was a preschool teacher at Little Steps Daycare in Morgan for three years and was also the director for a short time. She has been teaching second grade at Morgan Elementary for eight years.
After teaching for a couple of years, the Hammer family welcomed one more—this time a boy, Jason.
Now Dani is at the University of Utah majoring in biology; Jessica is a junior at Morgan High School and Jason is in fifth grade at Morgan Elementary School.
Keeping up with family interests, Dani and Jessica have been dancing since they were 3 years old and have been playing the piano since elementary school. Jason takes tumbling classes at the Morgan Academy of Dance and Tumbling. He also enjoys moto-cross racing, a sport he has enjoyed since he was 5 years old and an interest both of his parents share.
While experiencing the devastating effects of cancer through her grandparents and a friend of the family, who had breast cancer, Hammer was encouraged to join the local Relay for Life committee. Later on she battled her own small bout with skin cancer, which she attributes to possibly over-using tanning beds as a teenager.
Since then, Relay for Life has become a passion for Hammer. She served as a committee member for six years and the last three years she has been the chairperson for the Morgan Chapter.
She gives this advice to today’s youth: “Having strong work ethics and maintaining good grades play a factor in achieving your goals. Having the support of your family helps a lot, not only your spouse but siblings and parents.”
She stated gratefully, “I love making a difference through teaching.”