PhD ’07, Reading Education
Tanya Christ (PhD ‘07, Reading Education) is finding innovative ways to impact her community and is utilizing her teaching career to do so. Christ collaborates with the Baldwin Center, a local not-for-profit organization that provides after school and summer camp programs for urban underserved youth in Pontiac, MI. Christ created an undergraduate literacy teaching methods course at the Baldwin Center in 2009 and provided weekly assessment-based tutoring for 30 children attending the program with the help of her preservice teachers. Christ is currently an associate professor in the Department of Reading and Language at Oakland University (OU) in Rochester, MI.
In 2013, she replicated the same course at Auburn Elementary School after a partnership was formed between OU and the Avondale School District. In 2015, she developed a partnership with the principal and literacy coach at Alcott Elementary in Pontiac, which resulted in another service learning course. “Working within community settings provides rich and valuable learning opportunities,” Christ said. “It is a learning process for myself, my preservice teachers and for the communities with whom we partner.” Christ serves as the community partnership and service learning coordinator at OU, as well as a scholar in residence for the School of Education, which ensures her plenty of time organizing and participating in community work.
When Christ is not working with children to teach them life-long lessons, she is taking care of her own vivacious four-year old. “It is often difficult to achieve a work-life balance but when I adopted my daughter, she became the highest priority in my life,” Christ said. “I am constantly striving toward this balance and I hope that in the coming years, more attention is paid to work-life balance in the workplace.”
Reading Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities sparked her interest in education, as she became passionate about educational equity. She taught in a Title 1 underserved public school in Brooklyn, NY, which inspired her to continue her education and engage in research to develop more effective practices to help underserved students and their families. Her education at UB taught Christ to appreciate the art of effective collaboration. “These professors are what made my experience in the Graduate School of Education so powerful,” Christ said. “Now, as I work with my PhD students, I try my best to emulate what my UB professors taught me about what it means to be a great mentor.”
Christ expressed her admiration for X. Christine Wang, associate professor from the Department of Learning and Instruction in GSE. Wang helped Christ develop research and writing skills early in the program by guiding her through every step of data collection, analysis, writing and submission for publication. “I have never experienced anyone quite so dedicated to supporting a student’s learning process,” Christ said. “She is amazing, and still continues to coach my writing.” Christ received the State University of New York at Buffalo Alumni Award in 2016 for her accomplishments after graduating. In addition to her impressive résumé, she was a recipient of the OU Teaching Excellence Award in 2015 and OU’s Service-Learning Fellowship in 2009.
Christ suggests students considering the field of education should embrace diversity and multifaceted approaches to learning but to achieve this, students must develop cultural competence, engage in reflective practice and always keep striving. “I am constantly learning lessons still, and I think being reflective really helps me improve my perspective,” Christ said. “I have significantly changed the way I approach teacher education and professional development, as I now try to construct contexts in which we can collaboratively question and learn together through case studies, real life teaching experiences and collaborative peer analysis.”