Note: This interview was not translated verbatim

Q: When did you start at TAV?

A: I started at the College in 1999 when it was still a smaller institution. My neighbour who lived across the street, Ms. Annie Goldstein (TAV College Special Measures Coordinator), told me that she knows of a job opportunity that I would be really good at. I wasn’t sure about the job at first because before TAV, all I had ever taught throughout my teaching career was preschool up until the ninth grade. TAV was really my first time teaching a group of adult students; regardless, I decided to give it a shot and loved it. 

Q: What was it like here at TAV in the beginning?

A: The College wasn’t always like the one it is today, in fact, my first classroom had a massive hole in the floor in the middle of the room. In the winter, we would sit in the classrooms and freeze because the building was very old and had a bad heating system. 

Q: Why did you stay under those conditions?

A: Because I HAD to teach. This is truly my calling in life; my passion and I knew that this place was going to grow.   

Q: Can you tell me about the history of the College (from your perspective)?

A: I started with about 15 students. All of the students were religious because, at the time, our agreement with the government of Quebec was that we were an academic institution offering educational services to the (Jewish) religious community of Montreal, exclusively. However, year after year, the annual enrollment grew tremendously, especially when the government of Quebec put into effect a law which stated that preschool/daycare teachers had to have a degree. After this law came into effect, all of a sudden, TAV’s enrollment jumped to the hundreds and this is really how we took off as an institution.

Q: What was it like teaching at the College level for the first time?

A: As I said, teaching here at TAV was one of my first experiences as an educator working with adult students. With that being said, I was extremely nervous for my first day. In fact, I prepared a document the day before of word-for-word what I was going to say to all of my students. I wrote down something like “Hello. My name is Robyne Garellek. This is what I’m teaching…” I had every word written down that I was going to say for the whole three hours. I went home at the end of that first day and my husband asked me how my day went, to which I replied in a sarcastic tone “Ha, they think I’m smart.” 

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching?

A: For me, it’s really all about the actual teaching: the discussions, the give-and-take. I really care so much about my students actually learning something; I don’t like to stand and lecture. In fact, I always send my class notes beforehand so that my students don’t have to sit in class and write anything, instead, they can actually listen, interact and learn.

Q: What does TAV mean to you?   

A: TAV is my home. I always tell my husband “they’re going to bury me here [jokingly].” In all seriousness, I just love it here, the administration and teaching staff are just amazing, everyone is always quick to help each other and we really are like a family here. The directors always make time for you no matter what.   

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