Miss Outdoors finds pre-K perseverance

Katelyn Robinson takes on Toddville traditions

TODDVILLE — The past 10 months have been momentous for Ms. Katelyn Robinson.

In May, she graduated from Salisbury University. In August, she began her career as a full time pre-Kindergarten teacher at Maple Elementary. She teaches in the very same classroom where her mother taught pre-K for years. In October, Ms. Robinson’s grandmother, Bonita Abbott, passed away. In February, while competing in the 2017 Ms. Outdoors Pageant, Ms. Robinson sang “Jealous Of The Angels” for her late grandmother. Later that night, Ms. Robinson was named Miss Outdoors.

At 22 years old, Ms. Robinson’s recent past is a reflection of her Toddville traditions. In February, the soon-to-be Ms. Outdoors devoted her song to her grandmother during the National Outdoor Show at South Dorchester K-8 in Golden Hill. She attended the K-8 school before graduating from Cambridge-South Dorchester High School in 2012.

Ms. Robinson’s sister, Amanda Zinner, was moved to tears by the performance. In 2011, Amanda was named Ms. Outdoors after playing guitar while singing a song she wrote. In 2011, when Ms. Robinson was 16 and too shy to compete herself, she begged her sister to enter the pageant.

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff
Katelyn Robinson is pictured with her family in February after winning the title of 2017 Miss Outdoors. From left are Ms. Robinson’s older brother, RJ Robinson; Cherie Robinson, her mom; Cierra Robinson, younger sister; Brayden Zinner, nephew in her arms; Ms. Robinson; older sisters, Jana Robinson and Amanda Zinner; and Matthew Zinner.

Ms. Robinson is the second youngest sibling in a family of four sisters and one brother. Her brother, RJ Robinson, is the oldest.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve always gone to the Outdoor Show,” Ms. Robinson said Thursday. She said from a very young age, she dreamed of being in the pageant. In 2011, Ms. Robinson begged her sister to compete.

“Pageants were never really her thing,” Ms. Robinson said. “She ended up winning. I was very happy but I was also a little jealous because I wanted it to be me. … She enjoyed her year very much and she still talks about it.”

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff
2017 Miss Outdoors Katelyn Robinson lined up her pre-Kindergarten class for a photo Thursday at Maple Elementary School. Front row from left are Payton, Jemma, Ashlynn, Jordyn, Camden, Tristan and Hector; middle row, Khamari, Gy’Nilah, Bailey, Jeremy, Came’Ron, Tamia, Zh’Nierah and Donovan. Ms. Robinson is in back.

In 2014, during her sophomore year at Salisbury University, Ms. Robinson competed in the Miss Outdoors Show, but lost. She said she was very reserved, and wasn’t ready to represent Dorchester County. Teaching 4- and 5-year-old children changed her attitude.

“I have 17 kids every single day telling me that I’m pretty, that I’m smart, that I’m all of these things,” she said. “It gave me the confidence to do it. I made a deal with them that if one of them did Little Miss or Mister Outdoors, that I would be in the pageant.”

Payton, a girl in Ms. Robinson’s class, took her up on her offer and entered the Little Miss pageant. Payton’s mother told Ms. Robinson that Payton refused to compete unless Ms. Robinson joined the pageant. Ms. Robinson then entered the competition on the very last day she could.

The Miss Outdoors 2017 trophy is displayed in Ms. Robinson’s classroom, where her students now call her a “beauty queen” and a “princess.” She dedicated her victory to her class.

“Honestly, being in the classroom has helped me the most,” Ms. Robinson said. “I’ve learned so much and I’ve become so much of a better person by talking to them. … This classroom, it’s a beautiful thing. They don’t see color. They don’t see anyone for being different. … Everyone is helping. Everyone is loving. Everyone is kind. I feel like that’s rubbed off on me a lot.”

Ms. Robinson said in 10 years she sees herself still teaching in the classroom where her mother, Cherie Robinson, also taught pre-K. Cherie Robinson now teaches at Dorchester County Career and Technology Center. Cherie Robinson is educating high school students who intend to become educators themselves.

By winning Ms. Outdoors, Ms. Robinson received a $1,500 scholarship. Even though she intends to pursue a master’s degree, she is hoping to use the scholarship to purchase interactive teaching materials for her class. She would also like to buy school supplies for less fortunate children in her class to use at home.

Ms. Robinson said she was warned that the first year of teaching can be tough, but she is enjoying the experience so far.

“They’re learning. I’m learning,” she said. “We’re growing together.”

Ms. Robinson said she wants to continue to grow as a teacher.

“I want to eventually get my doctorate,” she said. “That’s a huge goal of mine. I’m always in my mom’s shadow, especially doing the same exact thing she is. So, I have to one up her somewhere.”

Out from the shadows, this year the spotlight will shine on 2017 Miss Outdoors Katelyn Robinson.

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