A Rigorous Education

June 29, 2015

Archie Tyson ’06 transferred to Grinnell for two reasons: the rigorous education and the opportunity to play football. “I knew that I wasn’t going to get drafted to play in the NFL, so my attitude was to play and enjoy the game, but to get a quality education at the same time,” he says.

“I appreciated the positivity of the coaches,” he adds. “They weren’t trying to break you down. They all realize that football is going to come to an end, and that you’re eventually going to be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, or a teacher, or something else, and that you need to develop skills and an identity outside of the sport.”

By playing a varsity sport, Tyson learned to juggle many different responsibilities, particularly his rigorous academic workload.

As a kid, Tyson didn’t spend much time in an academic setting like the one at Grinnell. “If you miss a class, your professor notices it and will ask you about the absence,” he says. “That level of personal attention goes a long way toward the development of a student.”

Professor Daniel Kaiser (history) helped Tyson learn how to take the great ideas he had in his head and arrange them cohesively into an argument. “I appreciated how honest he was and how committed he was to ensuring that I would be successful,” Tyson says.

Tyson used that same care and attention with his own students when he started his career with Teach for America. He took the time to immerse himself in the community where they were growing up. “Kids would work for me in the classroom because they knew that I noticed them, that I cared about them, and that I was concerned about their progress,” he says.

Tyson was quickly promoted from a classroom teacher to dean of students — while commuting to New York City to earn a master’s in educational leadership and administration at Columbia University.

“After having taken graduate-level courses, I can see that you get a different type of education at Grinnell,” he says. “If you go into any type of graduate program, you’ll instantly tell that the quality of education and the instruction that you received have set you up for success.”

Archie Tyson ’06 majored in history. He is assistant principal and director of football operations at KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School in Blytheville, Ark.

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