Instructor Sit Down: A Q&A with Tamryn Spruill

Tamryn Spruill was standing in a cranberry field, on an island off the coast of Finland, and thinking. She had headed to Europe as a reprieve after the economic collapse in 2007 forced her out of her job at a Manhattan law firm where she worked as a finance editor. She had climbed the corporate ladder there after beginning her professional life by earning a journalism degree at the University of South Carolina.
Now, with Wall Street in ruins, Tamryn stepped back and realized that this was her new beginning. And she embraced it.
“It became clear that when I returned to the U.S. I would get out of the rat race of New York City to pursue something that excited me creatively, intellectually, and spiritually. Like many who endured the hardship of layoff but found it to be a blessing in disguise,” she said.
Tamryn left New York City and headed to Vermont where she was accepted to the acclaimed MFA program at Goddard College. Never one to shy away from risk, or stray from her goal, Tamryn sent one application, to one school, Goddard. And it paid off. She was accepted and in her third semester taught fiction during a teaching practicum to local students in a charter school for the arts.
“I had sought creative, intellectual, and spiritual excitement and I found it – both in my graduate studies and in classrooms filled with talented young people,” she said.
Now as a faculty administrator, and English and literature Instructor for Bryant & Stratton College, Tamryn teaches two classes each session and supervises a group of about 20 adjunct instructors. Get to know Tamryn with our quick Q&A
  1. Which classes do you teach?
ENGL101: Research & Writing I, a foundational English course which helps students to build the types of researching and writing skills that will help them to succeed not only in future courses but in the workplace as well.
ENGL250: Research & Writing II, a course devoted to workplace-specific writing which affords students the opportunities to draft common workplace documents like memos, professional letters, and proposals, and to sharpen their research and information literary skills which also are critical to the competitive workforce.
ENGL350: Research & Writing III, a course which fosters and challenges critical thinking as students create a primary research study related to a subject in their degree field, and includes a thorough research design (sample, data collection, and data analysis methods) and survey for collecting data.
LITR320: World Literature, a survey course of twentieth century literature from around the world that focuses on critical analysis of short stories and poems, development of cultural awareness through the act of reading literature, and application of cultural concepts to life, community, and career.
  1. Do you continue to work in your career field outside the classroom?
I absolutely love my job! And I appreciate the ability to learn something new each session, with the goal of continual improvement. But all of this is to say that I do work in my career field outside of the classroom, as much as I can. But given the demands of my position with the college, I try to concentrate this work during breaks between sessions because I am a person who needs at least eight hours of sleep each night! In 2012, I founded an indie press that publishes poetry and hybrid/cross-genre or experimental literature. So far, seven titles have been published with another four set for release in 2016! I take great pride in sending highly imaginative and thoughtful literature out into the world, and I feel honored to work with so many talented writers.
  1. What do you wish students understood about their time in college?
More than anything, I wish students understood and embraced that education is a precious opportunity. Of course, it is a means to an end; for example, it is a path toward gaining better employment in the future. But embracing the journey of education as a precious opportunity – rather than as something to be endured to achieve an end result – will allow students to get all they can from the experience. Instead of holding an attitude of doing as little as possible to pass a course, I would love to see more students seek to learn as much as they can. To treat a course like a milkshake and suck very hard on the straw to taste every last drop and not leave anything in the cup!
I realize this can be difficult because many students work and/or have families. These are real life demands that do not leave much time in the day for completing textbook readings and writing papers. But I know from personal experience that it is possible to immerse fully in learning despite these challenges. Often, a measure of sacrifice is required along with good organization and solid time management.
I encourage students to be introspective and consider: What are you willing to do to pass the course and earn the degree that will lead you to the employment you desire? For example, are you willing to give up watching TV for 7.5 weeks while you complete the course? (With Hulu and Netflix, students can binge watch the shows they missed during the session – as a reward for doing well in class!) For students who are very concerned with grades, my advice always is to instruct them to immerse themselves more fully in what they are learning. If they do this, they will gain the knowledge that will lead to the end result of good grades. If students focus on learning as much as they can – completing all assigned readings, listening to lectures and so forth – the grades will take care of themselves.