Dr. Glenda Byrns retiring after 13 years with CEHD
When undergraduate students in the Department of Educational Psychology needed a break from the stress of being a college student, they knew Dr. Glenda Byrns, ’07, was the answer. For 12 years, she kept a container of Chupa Chups lollipops in her office and her door was always open.
“Sometimes they’d just come by and say, ‘Can I have a sucker? I need a sucker…..and, oh, Hi Dr. Byrns.’ This little lollipop helped to minimize their stress,” said Byrns. “And to have them see the ‘Breathe’ sign above my window just helped remind them to breathe, that they were going to make it through. It was just another way to support amazing students.”
Byrns, Clinical Professor Emerita of educational psychology, is retiring this month after 13 years with the college. She joined the faculty in 2003 while working on a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.
Prior to her time at Texas A&M, Byrns was a Speech-Language Pathologist working with children with speech and language disabilities in public schools in both Texas and Kansas.
Her focus has always been on helping her students succeed, whether in the K-12 classroom or higher education.
“While at A&M, I have been so fortunate to work with amazing staff, faculty, and administrators who care passionately about students. They work tirelessly to provide for and support students,” said Byrns. “Education is the only way to change a child’s trajectory in life or to give them access to knowledge. The children are our future and we have to support them.”
That work will continue beyond retirement as she plans to mentor students as well as her own children and grandchildren through their life trajectories.
Hope for the future
Byrns knows her colleagues are also passionate about their students, and believes that this passion for excellence will continue to carry the college and the special education program into the future.
One of the high points in Byrns’ career at A&M was in 2017 when the program was selected to be part of the Raising Texas Teachers initiative. To date, over 50 future special education teachers from Texas A&M have received the Charles Butt Scholarship from the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation. Raising Texas Teachers was created to elevate the teaching profession across Texas through partnerships with higher education, scholarships for aspiring teachers and a campaign to elevate the status of the teaching profession.
Byrns points to the contributions and importance of great visionaries in the college, both current and past, for the special education program being selected for this honor.
Those same visionaries also played a part in changing the future of the education degree in Texas. As of December 2020, pre-service teachers no longer receive a B.S. in Education degree. They will now graduate with a degree in Education.
“It has been one of the fastest turnarounds I have ever seen. This shows, at both the university and state level, that the status of these well-deserved teachers is being elevated,” said Byrns.
Leaving a legacy
While Byrns is far from hanging up her education hat, she knew it was time to hand over the reins of the special education program and retire.
She will still be involved in higher education in some aspects and may even jump back into the K-12 world for some consultation work.
She leaves behind a piece of advice for her colleagues, one that she hopes will be her legacy.
“Even though we’re in higher education, we’re still teachers. We can alter people’s perceptions of education. We can fight to advance those skill sets that help students,” said Byrns. “Every child needs advocates and we need to be that advocate for teachers and for children. I was, and will continue to be, that advocate and fight for them.”
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