Faculty Feature: Meet Tara Abbott, Ph.D., School of Education Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Tara Abbott, Ph.D., is a visiting assistant professor in the School of Education at Point Park University. Prior to joining Point Park full time, Abbott was a part-time instructor in the School of Education at Point Park and the psychology departments at Point Park and Chatham University. Abbott also served as a director of fundraising and public relations and assistant director of development for The Arc of Somerset County in Manville, N.J.
Photo by Emma Federkeil, senior broadcast production and media management major
"It is a privilege to work with talented students who are honing their research skills to produce original, interesting and significant scholarship on a variety of topics."
Who inspired your passion for education?
I was raised in a family who placed great importance on being a positive member of society. We were encouraged to find our own ways to make the world a better place through our everyday actions, community service and work. And in that spirit, I was taught by my parents that education is the best way to improve your life and the lives of those around you.
I took this advice to heart in my own academic and professional pursuits. I love that my educational career has now given me the opportunity to share my knowledge and skills with fantastic educators and educational administrators who are each doing their own part to make this world a better place every day.
Tell us about your various research interests and why you chose to explore these areas.
My research interests are primarily centered around equity in education. I have participated in research projects examining racial and/or socioeconomic disparities in institutional funding, student debt levels, college graduation rates, college access, standardized test scores, discipline rates and severity of discipline in public K-12 schools.
Presently, a large part of my role in the School of Education is to advise dissertation candidates during the research portion of their Ed.D. in leadership and administration doctoral program. It is a privilege to work with talented students who are honing their research skills to produce original, interesting and significant scholarship on a variety of topics.
An added benefit of serving on so many dissertation committees as a methods expert, rather than a content expert, is that the topics of my students’ studies are as varied and diverse as the students themselves. As such, I feel like I’m learning something new every day!
What factors made you choose to teach at Point Park University?
The factors that led to me applying to first teach a few courses as a part-time faculty member were primarily just a match-up of my academic background/experience to the subject of the open courses. I studied statistics and research methods; the university needed an instructor for statistics and research methods courses.
However, upon arrival here at Point Park University, I found an incredibly talented group of faculty and staff who are committed to our students in every way. I felt at home in the department, and began taking on additional courses and dissertation committee chair assignments. As of this fall, I came on as a full-time visiting assistant professor and am loving every minute of it!
What career advice do you have for our School of Education students?
Read, read and read some more! Whether it is for your courses, dissertation, job, or pleasure, reading is arguably one of the most surefire methods of continuous self-improvement. I think in our busy lives with on-demand news, social media and all-around information overload, we’ve forgotten the importance of reading actual books (or e-books!).
No matter the genre, reading makes us smarter, healthier and more engaged. It makes us better students, better employees, better leaders, better parents and just better people. We would never dream of a child going days, weeks, months or years without reading a book or having a book read to them … what’s different for adults?
I want to close with one of my favorite quotes from the one and only Ron Swanson of the Pawnee Parks & Recreation Department: “Dear frozen yogurt, you are the celery of desserts. Be ice cream or be nothing.”
Students (or anyone for that matter) — give everything your best. Do the work needed to be ice cream; because nobody wants celery for dessert.