2000 grad's plans change to teaching

September 26, 1999

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of nine profiles of members of the Class of 2000. The Herald-Mail has been following since they were kindergartners at Conococheague Elementary School in 1988. The profiles will appear on the last Monday of the month.

Tonya RobinsonBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Tonya Robinson loves helping people and animals.

So when Robinson decided recently not to go to veterinary school after graduation because there wasn't one nearby, teaching became her main pursuit.

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Accounting is still a possibility because Robinson loves math, but teaching would give her more interaction with people.

"I love kids. I love to help people," said Robinson, 16, of Gateway Avenue west of Conococheague Elementary School. The Herald-Mail has been following Robinson and her kindergarten classmates, who are approaching graduation in the spring, since 1988.


Robinson can see herself teaching kindergartners or first- or second-graders, but she also would consider teaching biology.

Since at least the sixth grade, Robinson had planned to become a veterinarian.

Her family has several cows and pet goats on their farm. And Robinson is in charge of taking care of the family's 13 cats, three dogs and eight rabbits.

It was one of those cats and a homework assignment that led Robinson to the idea of teaching.

One of her assignments for her biotechnology class last school year was to give a report about an animal, explaining general animal care for such things as common diseases, required vaccinations, feeding and handling.

Teacher Sue Lowery said Robinson exhibited organizational skills and the ability to put together a complete lesson and to review the material at the end of her presentation with the class.

Lowery was so impressed she encouraged Robinson to consider a teaching career.

"She has real good leadership skills," Lowery said.

Those skills led last year's seniors to choose Robinson to serve as president of the Future Farmers of America for her senior year.

Since ninth grade Robinson has been a member of the FFA, which develops leadership and career skills through agricultural education.

"At that time I didn't really want to do it, but I loved it," said Robinson, who was encouraged by teacher Dan Flinn to join.

Robinson has won several awards through her FFA activities and is planning for a trip at the end of October to Louisville, Ky., where her environmental resources team will compete at a national convention after winning the state contest during the summer.

Her team identified plants, animal hides and soil-testing equipment.

Robinson said she will probably attend Hagerstown Community College after graduation and later transfer to Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va., to earn a teaching degree.

She'd like to teach at a rural school such as Clear Spring.

Ever since the tragic shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado last April, Robinson has had concerns about school violence getting worse across the nation.

"I try not to worry about it. I'm not going to let my fears get in the way of something I want to do," Robinson said.

"And if I become a teacher, I can work to improve it," she said.

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