Local Teacher Receives Fulbright Award for Distinguished Teaching
By Stuart Young
Robyn Young of Kellogg School in Goleta, California is the recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant to Finland from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Robyn will travel abroad along with only 34 other awardees from across the U.S. via the program in 2018-2019 determined by the recipient’s academic and professional achievement, and demonstrated leadership potential.
Mrs. Robyn Young is a master teacher with more than 20 years involved in education. She holds an Education Specialist teaching credential, a Master’s Degree in Education, and an Administrative Services Credential. Never one to rest on her laurels, following her entry into special education studying under the late and revered Dr. June Downing, Robyn Young has been at the forefront of the inclusive practices teaching model providing passionate support for both her students, her general education peers, administrators, parents, and student teachers. Robyn observes that often teachers feel the only way to advance in their careers is by leaving the classroom for an administrative position. Wanting her skills to be utilized, Robyn continues to work directly with students and with her team in GUSD while researching new ways to improve the methods with which students’ needs are met. She is a leading member of the Santa Barbara County C.A.P.T.A.I.N cadre (California Autism Professional Training And Information Network) for the Santa Barbara SELPA (Special Education Local Planning Area) and is the Autism Specialist for Goleta Union School District. This tireless desire to improve inclusion practices lead Robyn to develop a proposal for the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching in order to study a world-leading educational system and disseminate that information back in the USA.
The Fulbright program was formulated and funded by the U.S. government as an exchange program to promote relationships between the United States and foreign countries while focusing on important global issues, leadership, and enhancing the sharing of knowledge. Linked to university-level schools of education, Fulbright participants conduct an inquiry project, take courses, and also share their knowledge with host nations. The project’s culmination is the development and implementation of an action back at their own school district. Prior Fulbrighters have gone on to further accolades including 59 Nobel and 84 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 37 individuals who have been elected heads of state.
Mrs. Robyn Young feels humble to be amongst such auspicious company, and is excited to study how students with disabilities are integrated so successfully in an educational system widely recognized as a world-leader. The award is considered a major achievement and a great opportunity for the recipient and their employers, yet has financial and personal impacts due to the length of study out of the country. Even though Goleta Union School District leadership have informally expressed pride for her award, sadly they are not supporting her endeavor financially in the manner of other school districts nationally. However, these challenges not withstanding, Robyn Young remains focused on helping students and is optimistic that important and innovative practices observed will be incorporated into her own school district’s policies and methodologies upon her return. “I’ve always advocated for students with special needs and continue to strive to ensure that all have equal access to a meaningful life.” she explained when asked about the passion driving her work.
Mrs. Robyn Young will be joined by her supportive family when she begins her study in Jyvaskala, Finland in January, 2019.