Our members are our greatest asset at ACTP and we love to highlighting the work that they do and the resources they are proud of on a weekly basis. On ACTP Thursdays, we put the spotlight on a member of the week, a resource of the week, or a best practice of the week. We’re a community of learning. We work best when we share our passions and practices.
Today, we bring you the work of Brandi Schreiber — a dedicated, long-time ACTP Member who has previously presented at ACTP’s annual conference! Brandi is the Program Director of the TECHniques Center at Texas Tech University (located within the Student Disabilities Services department at Texas Tech) – a department she has worked with for nearly a decade. Here’s Brandi!
ACTP: What drove you to the field of academic support and coaching?
Brandi: I like to tell my staff that this was an unexpected career. My background was English Literature with an emphasis on Creative Writing. I was an undergraduate tutor and it was a great way to apply what I learned in my classes to helping others. I knew that, once I got my MA in English, I needed to be flexible in my career options. I worked in the non-profit sector for a few years and realized that helping people was a good professional fit for my background and personality. When I came back to the TECHniques Center in 2010, I dove right in – I was a counselor, unit coordinator, assistant director, and in 2015, I moved into the Program Director role. Student Disability Services at Texas Tech is a very supportive department and I have received many opportunities for professional development to help me learn. Academic support and learning centers are good places for people who come from a variety of backgrounds – you get to apply all different areas in your life to work here. I kept working hard in my roles, and now I’ve been here for 10 years! My father was a teacher, and my mother is a nurse, so I grew up in a very service and education-minded home. The helping-type professional has always been my role model.
ACTP: What do you love the most about your job?
Brandi: There’s so many things! I love the people I work with. I have a wonderful staff who are all very caring, very fun to work around, and very collaborative in their approaches. I love that I work in a very supportive environment through Student Disability Services at Texas Tech. We have a lot of support, which makes everyday enjoyable. I love the dynamic aspect of working with students. They’re all very different and no two students are the same. It keeps me fresh, it keeps me feeling young, and it keeps me feeling connected to the human parts of us that speak to our souls and our hearts. When you’re working with students one-on-one, you cannot help but be pulled into that person’s needs and world and to care about them. I enjoy each interaction I have with them even though it can sometimes be a little tricky.
ACTP: What’s a big challenge that you are facing at your center?
Brandi: The biggest challenge we face is our model is very unique in that we match 1 tutor to 1 student and they work together for the entire semester. That match is made based on their major and the class they need assistance in. Accordingly, our matching and tutoring model takes into consideration study skills among other attributes of that discipline. So, to find tutors from a specific discipline who want to work with us, who have a good application, and who interview well can be very daunting. It’s always a challenge to find the tutors we need. Our positions are some of the best student employment positions on our campus in terms of pay and professional development, but it can still be challenging filling all our spots.
Another thing that is challenging is that unlike other departments on campus, we have a communication policy that includes parents, if students wish. I’ve learned over the years it’s just as important to educate parents on what it means for their children to be successful, independent, self-advocating college students as is it is to help students grow into their skills and abilities. We want to support families as much as their students.
ACTP: What’s one piece of advice you would give to your colleagues?
Brandi: Be flexible, especially if you are in this field for a long time because the needs of and approaches to our students are always changing. Student employees these days need to be supported, trained, understand to how this job applies to future careers, etc. You’ve got to be a little innovative in that process because the landscape of the type of employee we have is changing. For example, we have had to be open to integrating technology, phones and apps in processes to engage our young employee population.
ACTP: What’s a fun fact (not related to coaching/tutoring) that we should know about you?
Brandi: I love to go hiking. I’ve actually written some hiking travel articles for a Scottish travel company. Note: Check out some of Brandi’s great writing on life on the Scottish Highlands and advice for Americans thinking of hiking in Scotland!