February 14, 2022

Taryn Auerbach has known she wanted to teach high school English since she was in high school herself, but her time at Columbia College built her confidence not only to pursue that dream, but also to help other teachers do the same. Taryn attained her Bachelor’s degree in English Education as part of the class of 2019, and she graduated with a Master’s degree in Trauma- Informed Education in 2021. She currently teaches English and Mythology at Ridge View High School, and in fall of 2022, Taryn will return to Columbia College to teach an undergraduate course called Classroom Well-Being.

As an undergraduate student who knew what she wanted after graduation, Taryn was looking for inspiration, and she found it at Columbia College. Taryn found both faculty who were passionate about her chosen career and real, practical classroom experience even before she became a student teacher. Taryn says it was easy for the passion she saw in her professors and fellow teachers to rub off on her. Dr. Brennan Davis was a high school English teacher (and loved it); her advice and specific encouragement were significant as Taryn prepared to start her teaching career. Dr. Melissa Heidari was a wonderful influence, encouraging her to work as a writing consultant in Pierce Communications Center, which gave Taryn valuable, necessary experience critiquing and encouraging success through writing. When asked what drew her to English Education, Taryn says she has always loved reading and writing. She even dreamed of being an author as a child. She believes that if her students can read, write, and communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively, a whole new world is opened to them. Her favorite part of her job is helping teens realize that saying what they want to say empowers them to be who they want to be.

While Taryn was pursuing her Master’s, she was struck by the importance of all that she was learning: how to prepare for students who have experienced trauma, how to consider that trauma when planning a lesson, and ultimately how to inspire success from these students in the classroom. The skills she gained were meaningful and vital for all teachers becausestudents’ mental health and the effects of their trauma impact everything else about their school experience. As a pet project, Taryn started writing about all of the ideas and topics she wanted undergraduate teachers to know. These ideas morphed into a proposal, which is now an undergraduate course known as Classroom Well-Being to be introduced in the fall of 2022. Columbia College is proud to welcome Taryn home as she passes on her knowledge and skills to her fellow Koalas. These skills have already empowered her high school students: they enter Taryn’s class just as they are and leave as the person they want to be, as a whole new world is opened for them.

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