Tiffany Tamika Karma Robinson, a student in the MEd in Early Childhood Education program, works as a head teacher in the two-year-old classroom at the University Childhood Development Center (UCDC). In this Q&A, she discusses the racial education gap, how she connects book knowledge to practical knowledge, and her favorite class at Pitt Education. Her quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
Tell us about your path to Pitt Education.
Robinson: I have worked with children my entire life. In fact, every job I’ve ever had has been with children! So it was natural for me to come to go into education. I have worked in early childhood classes. I got my bachelor’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology from Pitt Education, graduated, and got a job at the UCDC. I have been at the UCDC for almost eight years now! I decided to continue my education with an MEd from Pitt Education. I want to learn more so that I can impact children and families.
How have you applied what you’ve learned at Pitt Education with your work at the UCDC?
Robinson: I connect what I learn with what I do in my classroom all the time. In classes at Pitt Education, I’ll learn how to engage children in certain activities, and then I’ll apply that knowledge in the classroom. I’ve also learned how to individualize a plan for a child with a disability. Other times, I’ll see something in my UCDC classroom that will come up in my Pitt Education classes later.
What has been your favorite experience at Pitt Education?
Robinson: My favorite experience has been taking a class called “Education and Society” with Professor Leigh Patel. It piqued my interest by addressing how society affects education and how racial gaps have developed. It put into perspective some of the things that we go through as African Americans. We talked about the killing of George Floyd; we talked about the tensions between African Americans and police. It hit home for me because I live through it every day.
What interests you about educational policy?
Robinson: I’m interested in addressing how we have some groups of children who don’t get the same resources as others. People of color, especially African Americans, are at a disadvantage in terms of the educational resources they have access to, all the way from preschool to college. Another aspect of policy I’m interested in is the pay gap between early childhood educators and K-12 teachers. We’re all considered teachers, but there’s a big discrepancy between the two. There should be a policy that decreases that pay differential.
What are your future goals?
Robinson: I’d like to find a position that allows me to find resources for underprivileged children in the school system and make sure that policies are changed to make those resources readily available to families in need. Those resources for students and families will help to close the educational gap. I know that my MEd in Early Childhood Education will prepare me with the skills and knowledge I need to work with families and children.
What is something about you that people might not guess?
Robinson: I’m highly involved in my church, Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church, and I’m a worship leader. I sing in the choir, which is very active. In 2016, our choir was asked to be part of the Broadway show Aida at the Benedum Center. I love singing. Even outside of choir, I find myself making up silly songs with the children in my classroom throughout the day.
The Pitt School of Education’s Early Childhood Development program is currently accepting applications. Apply here.