Druid Hills teacher receives national honor

Emily Robinson Pic

Joins National Cohort of Global Learning Fellows

According to Druid Hills High School teacher Emily Robinson, each day in the classroom is an opportunity to broaden horizons and gain perspective.

“My students come from all over—different backgrounds, different languages, different reading levels,” Robinson said. “They all bring something different. Students are more aware today than they have ever been. They care more than they ever have and they’re paying attention.”

Robinson, a teacher with DeKalb County School District for 13 years, credits her ability to recognize such opportunities as a factor in being named to the 2018 The National Educator’s Association (NEA) Foundation’s Global Learning Fellowship.

As one of 48 public school educators chosen from throughout the country, Robinson will take part in developing global lesson plans shared throughout the world through online coursework, webinars and collegiate studies. She will also take part in a nine-day international field study to South Africa.

Robinson describes her initial reaction to her honor as shock.

“I was in class and there were no students in the classroom except for one, who was working,” Robinson said. “I just yelled “Oh my God!” and called my mom and told my students. I could not, and still cannot, believe it. I’m very flattered.”

Robinson said she is excited to see how teachers, students and community members interact in South Africa. She said she has been researching teacher absenteeism in the country—an alleged problem—and is interested in determining how it correlates to the classroom.

“We aren’t considering things at schools for teachers,” Robinson said. “When people think of education, they typically think of students or the community at large first. Teachers are important—we work hard and don’t get paid much, yet everything always goes back to the teachers. I would like to bring teacher treatment into the discussion and see how it is in South Africa.”

Robinson said she hopes to develop a method to increase teacher morale worldwide. She said this is much needed, as teachers are often criticized.

“I’d like to learn more about the climate for teachers in South Africa,” Robinson said. “Is it a situation of having horrible students? Is there low pay? Is there no respect from administrators and the community? Is it a combination of a few things? I’m looking for similarities so we can learn from one another.”

Robinson said she hopes the NEA Fellowship trip to South Africa involves examining all aspects of the country and its people.

“I want the real deal,” Robinson said. “I want to know what’s affecting those people. Things like crime and poverty affect students directly, who affect teachers directly.”

Robinson, a University of Georgia graduate who teaches English, journalism and ESOL courses, holds the profession in high regard. She said it offers her a chance to never stop learning through her students’ perspectives and arguments.

“I’m going into my 13th year of teaching—things become stale at this point, but I’m also nowhere near the end,” Robinson said. “There are certain texts we read in class, like The Great Gatsby. Students always respond well, but last semester, students responded much more strongly. I like that—I don’t want to get too accustomed and set in my ways. I like it when students surprise me and keep me on my toes.”

Robinson said she views the NEA Fellowship as another way of staying interested, intrigued and involved in her profession. She said it follows suit with her life outside teaching, which involves pursuing things off the beaten path, such as SCUBA diving, volunteering, learning new dances, photography, various forms of art and research.

“You need something to keep the fire alive,” Robinson said. “This is a great opportunity.”

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