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Q&A with new faculty: Taryn Robertson

Taryn Robertson

Taryn Robertson has pursued her passion for education all over the country, from her Austin, Texas, hometown to Colorado to California.

She was a high school English language arts and reading teacher in Texas, served as an adjunct professor while earning her PhD at the University of Denver, and taught in the doctoral program at the University of San Diego.

Now Robertson, who holds a masters degree in education and a PhD in curriculum and instruction, has joined the Randolph College faculty as an assistant professor of education.

“I’m interested in communities where I can get to know my students and colleagues on very personal levels,” she said. “I think Randolph is a special place with special people, and I could sense the care and respect for each other and the community the minute I stepped on campus.”

Here’s what she had to say about her teaching style, her first impressions of Randolph, and what she’s most passionate about.

How did you first become interested in education?
I have been interested in education since such a young age. Originally, I thought I wanted to be a band director, but soon realized I would personally get to make a different impact in the classroom. My research interests are secondary education, particularly English language learners, reading and writing, and diversity in classrooms.

Describe your teaching style. What can students expect in your classes?
I think learning should be fun, and I think learning looks and feels different for every single student. Students in my classes can expect to feel safe, seen, heard, and valued. We will create a warm class environment together. Every student has different and unique talents, and I aim to make every student feel that they can truly be themselves while celebrating what makes us each different and special. I think that students in my class will *hopefully* look forward to my class, and they will remember the way that they feel there.

What attracted you to the job at Randolph?
I went to a small liberal arts university as an undergraduate student, and have always yearned for that intimate, tradition-rich, student-driven learning environment again. Additionally, I have a lot of respect for the diversity in the Randolph student population and the kindness shown to all members. I was a first-generation college student and had trouble finding my way and answering important questions as an undergraduate. I have seen peers helping each other so genuinely, and faculty and staff care so, so much. It feels really great and offers all students a chance to be the best version of themselves, and that’s a huge reason Randolph spoke to my heart.

What are your initial impressions of Randolph and its students?
Randolph is a very co-constructed learning environment where students feel safe and heard, and there isn’t a top-down leadership approach. And I love it! I love that students drive much of the happenings on campus, and I love that they have really owned their education and voiced the ways in which they want to learn. Students care here. They’re invested, and it’s because faculty and staff have created an environment in which students feel comfortable to be themselves.

What do you like to do outside of the classroom as far as hobbies or other activities?
First and foremost, I have a 12-year-old “puppy,” Harrison, who is my absolute best friend. You’ll likely see him getting a quick walk around campus! I moved to Virginia from San Diego with my partner, Derek, and we are big outdoorsy people. We love camping, hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, biking, and anything in between. We have tackled 26 national parks, with Harrison, and crave anything and everything outside.

Also, I am incredibly obsessed with running, as well. I’m a marathoner, and am nearly always training for some race. I’m typically up early to get my miles in before the rest of the world stirs, and this is my very favorite way to start the day.

I’m an avid reader (thrillers and mysteries), love dabbling in vegetarian cooking, exploring, and international travel.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Fortunately, I get to serve in leadership roles for various professional organizations, and I would love to bring future students along to attend conferences. I’m currently serving as the program chair for the Elliot Eisner Special Interest Group, which is a division of the American Educational Research Association. I also serve on the Executive Council for the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum (AATC). Finally, within this conference, AATC, I serve on a book review committee, the O.L. Davis, Jr. Outstanding Book Award, which showcases phenomenal authors in the field of teaching and curriculum. I would love to talk, share my passion for these organizations, and get students involved in contributing their important ideas.

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