Professor Spotlight: T. Barbeau & G. Pryor – Dynamic duo shatters stereotypes, improves academia


Photo by: Austin Kemmerlin

Barbeau and Pryor have worked in the biology department at FMU for 10 years. The couple brings classroom lessons to life with their unique teaching styles and methods.

Lauren Cole, Staff Writer

Professors of Biology, Tamatha Barbeau and Gregory Pryor, have been dominating the Biology department at Francis Marion University [FMU] for ten years as a team.


Bent on educating students in both academia and in life, Barbeau and Pryor strive to be unconventional role models for each students regardless of major.  The pair are most notable for their eccentricity: Pryor’s long beard and Barbeau’s pink hair.  While the two have been married for 17 years, they are both independent people with different talents and abilities to offer their students.
“Her [Barbeau] personal experience in the field of health care, both animal and human, sets her apart from the rest,” Pryor said.  “She is able to relate to her students and teach by telling stories from her first hand point of view of the material.”


With five years of field experience as a veterinarian technician, Barbeau has quickly climbed the ranks to being the coordinator of the pre-vet program.  She takes pride in being able to connect classroom knowledge with real world experience in a way that students will leave a classroom learning more than just how to memorize information for a test.
“Learning techniques of how students learn so that I can better teach them in a way that they will understand is an art form,” Barbeau said.  “The material being taught has to be applicable to more than just a class.  When you apply what you learn on a regular basis, you understand so much more.”


Barbeau has collaborated with the nursing program to allow her Anatomy and Physiology students to practice real-life situations with the simulation dolls.  Barbeau also attributes much of her success to FMU.


“I love the one-on-one teaching,” Barbeau said.  “The class sizes are small enough to get to know your students and interact with them in more than just a lecturing capacity.  I want to keep my students engaged and listening to stories instead of just scribbling down notes to pass time.  I also want students to have the opportunity to talk openly and have a safe space inside the classroom.”


While Barbeau teaches through applicability and experiences, Pryor teachers through humor and relatability.
“He [Pryor] is incredibly smart and uses his humor to keep students engaged,” Barbeau said.  “Students walk around the hallways talking about how much they enjoyed his class.  He has a way of relating to the students and making learning fun.”


Pryor has recently finished writing a textbook and designing a new course for pre-nursing students.  Pryor received his Ph.D. for his work with bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.  He focuses mainly on teaching Microbiology to pre-nursing students and Biology majors; however, he is able to connect with students of every major and background.
“Just like most of the students at FMU, I was born and raised in the country and I am a first generation college graduate in my family,” Pryor said.  “I just try to be a good teacher and make the students relaxed and comfortable while learning.”


Pryor seeks to expand student’s horizons while enabling them to think, learn, be creative and apply the information learned into new avenues.


“I want to make the average extraordinary,” Pryor said.  “Teaching is a two way street. I empower and influence the students and the students in return empower and influence me.  They are always teaching me new things as well.”


Both Barbeau and Pryor endeavor to improve academia while also shattering stereotypes through their appearance, interests and everyday lives.  The couple lives a lifestyle where they make the majority of their own supplies and food for survival.


On the 100 acre homestead, they indulge in many different forms of simple living including: bee keeping for honey and pollination, candle making, vegetable gardens, vineyards for jams and wine, raise goats and chickens for milk, eggs, and cheese and hunt deer and pigs for meat.
“We like to know where our food comes from,” Pryor said.  “We are just hippies who love nature trying to live a very simple, primitive life.”
“We want to be role models for our students in every aspect of our lives,” Barbeau said.  “We want to show students that you don’t have to be stuffy and making a lot of money to be happy.”