After years of teaching little ones and volunteering with the PTA, Tanya Robinson set her sights on Dorchester District Two’s school board.
Robinson serves as the chairwoman for the board and is one of four incumbents hoping to be re-elected in this year’s election. Seven candidates are vying for four seats.
Robinson said the district has done many “wonderful, innovative, successful…award-winning” things and considers it an “honor, a blessing and a challenge” to be on school board.
“We built four schools during the last four years – that’s a success,” she said. “we have broken ground on the aquatic success – that’s a success. We have added clusters and wings to every high school so that we can get children career-ready in the last four years – that’s a success. We have increased our graduation rate by about seven percent in the last four years – that’s a success.
“I have been privileged to be a part of nothing but one success after another so I hope the community will continue to trust that I will work to keep working with more successes,” she said.
She has been on school board for eight years and is running for her third term.
Robinson was a teacher for 20 years; she taught kindergarten at Bethany United Methodist. She worked for 10 years in the district office in public information and was then on the board of directors for a local bank.
Robinson is married to Kent and has four children who grew up in Dorchester District Two schools. She also said she was blessed to raise four other children in her home. She has 12 grandchildren.
During her time as a teacher she volunteered working with special education children and working with PTA leaders, and served as the PTA president at one point. Robinson worked part time in the district office in 2010; she said that year the district had a huge budget cut and she was among the part-time employees who were issued pink slips to save money. Robinson’s family then encouraged her to run for school board.
Robinson said she loved being around the atmosphere of children, teachers and schools – “I ran so that my love could continue and, I hoped, benefit everyone by being on board, and it worked,” she said.
Robinson said she would not be running again if Dorchester District Two had just been a “leveled-out school district.”
“But we have done so many positive, innovative things over the last years that I’ve been on the board, and we’ve had so many successes after successes that I feel I had a small part — it’s certainly not me, it’s everyone, but I had small part – and I would love to continue to finishing some of the initiatives that have been started,” she said.
As a school board member, Robinson said she thinks her strongest attribute is being able to take time to listen to everything prior to making decisions, “and to…always make my decision based on what will be best for our students,” she said.
Robinson said she is excited about today’s education because what is best for students “has finally arrived, and that is a multitude of ways to educate a child that did not exist even a decade ago.”
“I am seeing students that were once bored come alive with the classes they’re taking now,” she said. “I’m just seeing a revitalization that they come to school happier.”
Robinson said she’d like to think she was initially voted onto school board because voters knew her passion for children through teaching and volunteering.
“The second time I feel like…they could trust me,” she said.
Collectively, Robinson said she is proud of the board’s promotion and the support toward career readiness.
The district organized a security task force committee earlier this year to look at ways to continue to enhance and improve safety and security in the district. The committee is made up of three sub-committees that look at student intervention and prevention safety, building and facility safety, and business partner and community outreach.
Robinson said she considers getting the task force committee to be a personal accomplishment. She said the district has a five-year plan it is working on, and it is it building each year on different levels of providing security in the schools.
If she gets re-elected, she said she would like to see the Educational Foundation continue to grow, and she would also like the district to continue partnering with businesses, industries, colleges, the town and county for ways to increase funding for career-ready education, and to help fund state mandates.
She said she would also like to see foreign language taught in elementary schools.
Superintendent Joe Pye reported in August that the district had only one teacher position to fill. Some school board candidates have focused on the issue maintaining teacher retention.
Robinson said the district was third from the bottom for per-pupil spending, but in the top 10 in testing.
“It’s not fair to expect our teachers to keep being okay with that,” she said. “We’ve got to get our county and our town people to partner with us so our teachers are better paid. …We tell them we value them – and we do – but again, when we can show them with a better paycheck, then it’s like we’re putting our money where our mouth is.
“They deserve it,” Robinson said.
As the district continues to grow, Robinson said the district has been blessed by big corporations providing grants so students can have dual degrees when they graduate.
Robinson said the district needs to work with businesses and the government and show that the district is doing its part to prepare students for careers – but need the funding to keep it up.
“We’re doing it – but we need your help,” she said.
Robinson is part of Junior League. She was the state PTA president up until recently and still serves on its board as the leadership development and training chairman. She is a Sunday school teacher at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is also on the board of Dorchester County Economic Development.
In her spare time Robinson enjoys swimming and doing arts and crafts with her grandchildren.