Eliza and Taft Robinson are applying their BYU dance education to their current jobs as elementary school teachers.
BYU graduates Taft and Eliza Robinson learned more than just performance skills during their time in the BYU Departments of Dance and Theatre. They also learned how to teach and collaborate with other students, and those lessons are paying off. After graduating in April of 2020, Eliza and Taft found themselves working, not as performers, but as elementary school teachers in New York City.
“I haven’t always wanted to be a teacher. But one day during my final semester at BYU, I realized how desperately I wanted to do something that I would find incredibly fulfilling,” Eliza said.
Eliza and Taft, who majored in dance and music dance theatre respectively, were preparing to graduate earlier this year, and they were worried about finding jobs. Eliza began applying to anything that she found remotely interesting. The pair was interested in living in New York because of the artistic network available in the city, so when Success Academy reached out for an interview, they were excited about the opportunity. Eliza got the job and encouraged Taft to apply when she saw that Success Academy was still hiring.
“I never expected to teach school remotely, let alone teach elementary schoolers literacy and math. I’m not even a dance teacher at Success, but I’m still holding out hope for the coming years,” Eliza said.
The job wasn’t what the couple was expecting to do after graduation. However, they felt it would be a good opportunity for them, and they’re finding ways to apply what they learned from their education at BYU.
“Teaching is performing and performing is teaching. The ability to read and portray a text in a connected and engaging way is very transferable from my experience viewing, studying and performing on stage,” Taft said.
Despite the fact that her major was not directed towards elementary education, Eliza believes that her time at BYU prepared her for her current job. She believes her BYU education was vital to her development artistically, mentally and emotionally.
“The dance program at BYU facilitated my creativity and put my work ethic into overdrive. That is exactly what teachers have to do every day,” said Eliza. ”Teaching, like dancing, is not just a job. Teaching is a craft that will take me years and years of hard work to cultivate.”
The couple is grateful to be able to work together, because they understand each other’s struggles. They share hard moments and tender experiences as they learn how to become professional teachers.
“I expected this job to be challenging, but I never anticipated the intellectual and emotional growing pains that come with being a first-year teacher,” Taft said. “This job is more of a refining fire than I ever anticipated, and I’m hopeful to become a better person through it.”
Eliza and Taft believe that God has guided their lives throughout this year, and that all of the difficulties they have faced were part of God’s plan. Shortly after being offered their current jobs, the couple had multiple experiences that assured them that this was the right path. These included being offered an apartment by a friend who was moving out of New York, and crashing their car — which they weren’t going to have much use for in the city.
“The circumstances that have brought Eliza and me together and propelled us to New York during the pandemic were inspired. Now that we’re in New York experiencing both successes and challenges, I know our route here was influenced by God,” Taft said.