Taryn Snyder '06 '11GS, is teaching at Boston Teachers Union Pilot School

February 09, 2016

Taryn Snyder

This double alumna discusses teaching at the BTU School and talking about diversity in an elementary classroom.

What is your current job and what does it entail? 

I’m currently a third grade teacher at the Boston Teachers Union Pilot School in Jamaica Plain. My primary responsibility at school is planning and teaching reading, writing, social studies, science, math, and social-emotional learning to my students. Since the BTU School is a teacher-led school without a principal, the whole faculty is also tasked with running a school. When I’m not with my students in my classroom, I’m a member of the Literacy Leadership Committee, a liaison with the Office of Family and Student Engagement, and often serve on various hiring teams in our building. For the last year, I’ve been a teacher ambassador with the Teacher-Powered Schools Initiative too. I’ve networked with teachers from many of the 70+ teacher-powered schools around the country and presented about the BTU School at several national conferences. 

Outside of school, I’m also an adjunct faculty member in the Education Department at Simmons. It’s nice to be back where I started, teaching students about a topic I’m passionate about - ways to include all kinds of learners in the classroom. 

 What brought you to Simmons? 

I transferred to Simmons midway through my sophomore year. I had always loved Boston and I knew I wanted a smaller school right in the city. I was hoping to major in Communications and Simmons had a great Communications department.

After working in advertising for five years, I decided it wasn’t the career path I wanted for the rest of my life. I spent a lot of time soul-searching and decided to go back to grad school to become a teacher. Heading back to Simmons was a no-brainer for me. I had had such a great experience during undergrad and knew I wanted to be back at Simmons for grad school. 

How did Simmons prepare you for your current job? 

Simmons’ MAT program offers a full-year internship. As a career-changer, I knew I’d need all of the hands-on classroom experience I could get before teaching in my own classroom. Simmons was also deeply involved in supporting the BTU School as it further developed its shared leadership model during its first few years in existence. Since a partnership was already in place between Simmons and the BTU School, I decided to complete my full year of student teaching in the first grade classroom there. I ended up getting hired at a charter school after graduating with my Masters, but then found out the following year that the third grade position was open at the BTU School. I applied and was hired just in time to have my same group of first graders as third graders. I’ve been teaching third grade at the BTU School ever since! 

In what ways is your career rewarding? 

My job is rewarding in so many ways. Watching kids light up as they learn new things is really exciting. There’s always an ah-ha moment when what you’re teaching clicks. That moment of deeper understanding is really awesome to witness. 

I’m also a huge proponent of integrating current events into what we’re doing in the classroom. As a result, I’ve felt so honored to be part of some really meaningful and candid conversations with my students. Last year, with so many devastating events happening in the news, many of my students shared their own experiences growing up black or Latino in Boston. Having a safe space to process what’s going on in the world and how it relates to them is so important for kids. Being trusted by my students to be a part of the mature, honest conversations that came about as a result was a really powerful and moving experience for me. 

Watching my kids evolve as learners, and as people, is the most rewarding aspect of being a teacher.