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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
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Reed Spencer balances teaching and life with newborn twins

Professor describes his “year of delegation”

Dr. Reed Spencer has found empowerment in what he’s declared “The Year of Delegation.”

This is Spencer’s 4th year in his position as assistant professor of music and director of choral ensembles. However, he is not new to the Taylor community. 

Having graduated in 2011 as a vocal performance major, Spencer is pleased to be working within the department he studied.

“As this job opened, it was the place where I fell in love with the art,” Spencer said. “It made me want to come back and teach here and direct those ensembles.”

Spencer’s life, already pressured by the demanding schedule of the higher education field, has become even busier this summer as his family has grown.

Though they were planning for just one more child, God blessed the Spencers with twins.

Spencer and his wife, Lesley, now have five kids under 7 years old. Noah is 6, Lewis is 4 and Milo is 2. Twins Oliver and Anna joined the bunch three months ago, making the Spencers’ lives a little bit more hectic — and a lot sweeter.

“We did not imagine five [kids],” Spencer said. “We can’t imagine our lives without them.”

A typical day for Spencer starts with dropping Noah and Lewis off to school. He usually begins work in his office at 9 a.m. — fitting in a morning gym session if time allows — and ends the day at 6 p.m., after Chorale rehearsal.

Spencer’s recent routine has brought him home for lunch breaks, although it can hardly be considered a break. He offers help to his wife by putting Milo down for a nap and holding the twins before it is time to return to campus.

Though his schedule is tight, Spencer is confident that this year will produce a lot of growth.

“I’m convinced that the Chorale and the Sounds are only going to keep getting better,” Spencer said. “And I don’t think this year is a step backwards just because I have other things in my life.”

Spencer has called this year the “Year of Delegation.” Amidst his developing role as father to five children, he has gathered strength from his students, specifically the Chorale officers.

This year, the officers shoulder much responsibility. They have been tasked with the planning of an annual Chorale retreat that Spencer usually heads up. Later in the year, the music groups will travel to Pendleton Prison, to Georgia and even as far as Ecuador.

Leaning on student leadership has provided much needed steadiness in Spencer’s life this year. Delegation, while taking some of the logistical tasks off his plate, has not slowed the groups’ momentum.

“We’re doing all sorts of really fun things that are a step even further than we’ve done in the past. And so I’m excited about all of that,” Spencer said. “It’s gonna be really satisfying.”

While at home, Spencer enjoys embracing typical childhood activities with his kids. They love reading, going to the park and jumping on the trampoline.

Lesley and Spencer are grateful for the support of the community of parents in Upland.

“Small town life is not for everyone and it’s not for every season, but it is the best thing for us right now,” Spencer said.

Adjusting to the reality of being both full-time educator and more-than-full-time father has proved challenging, especially with the arrival of twins Oliver and Anna.

Still, Spencer is secure in his calling to both his students and his family.

“Sometimes I look at faculty who don’t have that responsibility,” Spencer said. “Maybe their kids are growing up or they haven’t had kids. And I’m really envious of their ability to be — really, to go to anything or to be really flexible and involved. But on the other hand, I also get to have that richness in my life. And I get to show students what it’s like to have a family.”

Many other professors with families share this understanding. They bear a unique role in serving and leading their families and, often, home life is the fuel that lights their fire to then go and pour into their students.

Spencer believes there are similarities between his ministry to his children and to his students.

“I think kids are really responsive and light up when you get on their level and are there and present with them,” Spencer said. “That’s actually not that different with students. Students want your presence and your care.”

Delegating tasks that would have otherwise taken Spencer away from his students and his family is one way he is practically embracing this concept of presence this year. His students have a lot that they can learn from his intentionality in the way he prioritizes people over projects and work.

Spencer’s vulnerability in sharing the complexities of balancing work and family life provides great insight for students in relating to those of their professors that have families.

Students’ intentional support of their educators is crucial in allowing them the freedom to be present in the classroom in the capacity that they would like to be.

“Actively remembering that your professor has a life that’s outside of the classroom is really important, especially at a place like Taylor, where we want to be involved in each other’s lives,” Spencer said.