While most college graduates may feel limited to shape their permanent career around typical positions associated with their major, Amber Robinson, Orem, Utah, native and McKay alumna, did not. She chose to stay close to her passions, even if that meant pursuing a position outside the traditional elementary classroom after earning a degree in early childhood education.
After earning her bachelor’s degree from the McKay School of Education in 2009, Robinson pursued another passion at George Washington University, earning a graduate certificate in nonprofit management in 2011. She then received a master’s degree in applied educational psychology with a focus in reading at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2012.
Her extensive schooling and internship opportunities have brought her to her current positions as an implementation manager for Lexia Learning and an adjunct professor at Utah Valley University teaching early childhood education.
Between graduating from BYU and going back to school, Robinson moved to Washington, DC, to be a lead teacher for the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center at the Natural History Museum. Her position provided her with the unique opportunity to teach her students through exhibits in the museum.
When asked about Robinson’s favorite memories of her time at the museum, she recounted, “In the middle of the Natural History Museum is a giant elephant. The kids named him Henry. Whenever we went out on museum visits the kids would always say hello to Henry. I loved that they had a learning environment where they felt comfortable and at home, even though it was a huge museum!”
During graduate school, Robinson worked as a graduate assistant and implemented an after-school service learning program in Harlem, New York. Following that position, she worked as a literacy intervention teacher for five years in the Alpine School District. These experiences reconfirmed her love for helping others and inspired her to go on humanitarian trips, which later became a great passion of hers. “I began going on humanitarian trips right after high school. I went to Kenya and Thailand. It was these experiences that helped confirm my desire to get a degree in education.” Experiencing the humble schooling conditions and interacting with energetic children from around the world have shaped her into the educator that she is today.
Last summer she went to Nepal where she taught children in a small village about the color wheel. Even in humble circumstances she noticed the children were positive and eager to learn. When pointing to the color red, Robinson recalls at least 20 hands being shot up in the air. “That experience teaching colors to the young children in Nepal provided an invaluable reminder of why teaching and learning is so important,” recounted Robinson.
All of these experiences led Robinson to her current position as an implementation manager at Lexia Learning, an online reading program. When asked about her responsibilities as an implementation manager, Robinson said, “I try to engage and motivate educators to leverage the online program for effective literacy instruction in their classrooms. During phone calls and online meetings with administrators we talk about best practices, review current data, and plan professional learning for teachers.”
Teaching and learning isn’t just a passion, but is in her DNA. Robinson said, “My family has always been passionate about education. I come from a long line of educators,” she explained. It is no surprise that she continues to teach, influencing future educators at Utah Valley University as an adjunct professor. “I get to teach Children’s Literature, which was one of my favorite education classes at BYU,” said Robinson. She also teaches Child Guidance and Childhood Literacy.
When she’s not working, Robinson enjoys taking advantage of where she lives—something she encourages everyone to do. Living in Utah, she likes volunteering at the Sundance Film Festival, skiing, and visiting national parks.
Robinson advises those considering the field of education to stay close to their passions. “I tell students in my education courses that their greatest impact will come as they focus on what they are passionate about. Don’t develop the mindset that teaching requires a certain personality or that you have to mimic the teaching style you observe. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many diverse educators and I’ve learned from all of them. We need passionate people in the field who can make an impact with their specific skills and talents!”
Writer: Hannah Antillon
Contact: Shauna Valentine (801) 422-8562