Corps Member Spotlight: Robyn Redding
March 1, 2017
Growing up in rural Georgia, I was fortunate enough to go to schools where most of the teachers and administrators looked like me. I didn’t realize that students in other areas weren’t constantly exposed to successful, hardworking, and inspirational Black leaders. Before culturally responsive teaching became popular, I was learning and performing poems by Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and James Weldon Johnson in elementary school. Because of my experiences, my self-image is deeply rooted in my heritage. I currently teach at a school where over half of the population is Black. I interact with my students through the lens of a Black teacher. I am constantly reassessing my pedagogy to fit the needs of my students. I want them to see themselves as powerful, smart, and capable. I grew up believing that my current situation wasn’t my final destination, that there was more to life than what I saw. My students deserve the same.
This past holiday season, I started a GoFundMe campaign to provide bikes for all of my students. All over the country, there are children who wake up on Christmas day expecting an abundance of presents not because they did anything special to deserve it, but because that is what they’re accustomed to. I didn’t give bikes to the highest performing students or the best behaved. I gave a bike to every single student in my class because I want them to know that they are as special and deserving as any child in any area of the world. They aren’t just deserving of bicycles; they also deserve a wonderful education and a teacher who loves and supports them. My goal is to be that teacher every single day.
“They aren’t just deserving of bicycles; they also deserve a wonderful education and a teacher who loves and supports them. My goal is to be that teacher every single day.”
I joined Teach for America because its mission resonates with my personal mission to bridge opportunity gaps and provide as many students with a quality education as possible, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status. I have worked with children in and out of the classroom in Georgia, North Carolina, and now Nevada. I have learned through trial and error that the best thing I bring into any interaction with students is my authentic self. When I am true to myself and my beliefs, I allow my students room to do the same.