Ease your student supervision speed bumps.

A Doer like Robin Fontana is taking Karma to the Next Level

981969_549238005117967_1048065487_oAdding to these qualities is humility, as she stated when describing what makes her proud.  “I’m a lucky girl.  Little nerdy things from my students make me proud.  When a student tells me they got the final Jeopardy question right.  I know it’s dorky, but it makes me really proud to be a teacher.”
Many times students will reconnect, years after being in her class, “Through Facebook I reconnected with a student from 20 years ago who wrote me saying ‘I’m so glad to have you back in my life, you meant so much to me when I was a teenager.”  She softens her face as she states, “To have a positive impact on a little girls life is a big deal.”
Robin is a big deal.  I know working in education, many times we are not acknowledged or thanked until students come back to us years later.  The payoff is worth it, almost more meaningful when it comes later in life.
She attributes these accomplishments to the nuns she once (in her words) tortured.  “They instilled in me the golden rule, to be the best person I could be around people.  It is so important to me, something that I model to my girls.  That is the key to my success.  The feeling you are getting back what you give.  We are back to Karma!  If you put more positive out there than negative, that is really a good idea to have in your life.”
Simple and fair, the more positive you put out, the more positive you will get back.  Thirty years of teaching have provided her plenty of opportunities to put out her aura, which was once described to her at a parent teacher conference.  “You have the most beautiful golden aura!” the parent declared.  I learned that an aura is a field of (subtle) luminous radiation that surrounds a person.  Some believe that this color is connected to a person’s power or even holiness.  Other practices connect colors with personality traits or even a map of thoughts/feelings of a person.
This is honestly the first I looked into colors/auras, but from what I now know about Robin, I can’t disagree with this previous parents observation.  I am a pretty open and curious person, so I dug deeper what a person with a golden aura would look like.  As found on a site called Reiki Healing,

A golden aura color means: enlightenment and divine protection. When seen within the aura, the person is being guided by their highest good. It is divine guidance. Protection, wisdom, inner knowledge, spiritual mind, intuitive thinker.

In addition to this definition, based upon the year I have known Robin, I see all the descriptors of just how accurately a Golden aura fits Robin.

Robin and husband Chris
Robin and husband Chris

This doer is also quick to acknowledge others in her life that have supported her growth.  When asked more about her husband Christopher of 13 years, she blushed like one of her seventh graders.  She described him as her best friend and

“I love him, love him, love him.  Anything I say would sound cliché, but I can’t image my life without him.”

No lie detector needed, the love was oozing out her pores.  Real love, which as she explained, despite how extremely different they are.  Just like my own experience with my husband, opposites attract.
Pursuing an advanced degree, while working is extremely challenging.  It is crucial family and friends are on board with support.  Christopher follows this requirement as Robin states, “He is just blown away with me going back to school.  He’ll say, My wife is going to be a doctor!”
As she described her relationship, I couldn’t help but think back to her students.  As she described it, their relationship was not only flourishing, but was a prime example of a healthy relationship of give and take.  This too would be something for young women, even twelve-year olds, to be modeled.

father daughter
Robin and her fire fighting father

Robin learned from her parents what real selfless love looks like.  Mother Betty and Father Bill have been married 54 years.  Her mother was once a counselor and dad was ‘a hero firefighter.’  She recollects the work ethic and commitment to family her dad balanced, “He would come home so tired from a brush fire, but would still come to things like my glee club performance.”
Bill is now retired, but continues to work in other ways.  He supports Robin’s mother, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis since her late thirties.  That was almost forty years ago.  She stated, “I admire my dads level of dedication, devolution and selflessness.  I look at him and think if I had a 10th of that.  But he’s not a martyr; he has a great self of humor. I get my funnies from him.”
The admiration we have for our fathers is something else Robin and I share.  I held back my tears as she talked so fondly of her father.  The comedian, the family man, the workhorse.
I think of the song Daughters by John Mayer, where the chorus goes, “Fathers, be good to your daughters.  Daughters will love like you do.”  To this I say, Robin is more than just the 10% she hopes of her fathers’ essence.  She loves like he does.  She is her father’s daughter: devoted wife, selfless teacher and quiet honestly self-made comedian.
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About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

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