Grad Spotlight: Ellen Barnhart

Name: Ellen Barnhart
Age: 22 

Course of Study (degree being earned): B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies (early childhood – Grade 6 ESL core subjects certification) 

Hometown: San Antonio  

Hi, I'm Ellen! I am majoring in Interdisciplinary studies, and minoring in geography & environmental sustainability. I enjoy spending time outdoors, doing things like hiking and camping. I also love to travel and explore new places, foods, and cultures. I look forward to going beyond academics, and teaching all of my future students about the importance of accepting others, and ensuring that all are welcome. I chose UTSA because it allowed me to stay close to my family, and because of the highly recommended education program.  

What was your favorite class and/or who was your favorite professor? Why? 

My favorite class was CI 4303 with Dr. Farias. This class taught me so much about how I can create social change within my classroom by integrating that change into social studies lessons. This course motivated me to be a brave educator who is not afraid to have hard conversations with my students. It is these conversations that lead students to be advocates for themselves and can help them to feel seen and heard. 

What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned over the course of your studies?

The most important thing that I have learned is the value of being a life-long learner. As an educator, it is key to be able to reflect on your own practices and grow from them. I have learned to strive for the continuous growth of my knowledge and skills, and to go into each day with an open mind. 

Describe any organizations or activities within COEHD that you’ve participated in. 

I was a part of the UTSA-NISD Residency Program. This program helped to grow me both academically and personally. It gave me the opportunity to interact with a variety of grade levels at very diverse campuses, build relationships with different teachers, and have meaningful discussions with principals. I am forever grateful to have had such a wonderful. 

Describe any professional experiences or internship opportunities you have had.

During my yearlong student teaching field experience with Northside ISD, I learned so much. Being in the classroom reminded me of the importance of building relationships with your students. I learned that being a strong educator goes beyond teaching students academics and includes social and emotional learning. Students need their classroom to be a safe space, where mistakes can be made and true learning can take place. This all starts with creating a strong bond between each and every student that steps foot into the classroom.   

How has COVID impacted you, either personally or professionally? 

I have been very fortunate with the Covid-19 pandemic, as all of my family has stayed healthy. On a professional level, I have seen the impacts of Covid on my students. With the lack of in-person school over the past year and a half, students struggled academically and personally as they missed out on critical time in the classroom. In turn, this has affected teaching practices, as now educators have a lot more things to take into consideration than they did before.   

What are your plans for the future and/or your career? 

After my time at UTSA, I want to reach out of my comfort zone and move out of Texas. I hope to teach English abroad and spend time getting to know the cultures, language, and lifestyles of different places around the world – all while doing what I love; teaching children.   

What has brought you inspiration during this time? E.g., music, books, people, etc.

 My family, friends, and students have all brought me inspiration throughout my time at UTSA.  

You’ve been given the opportunity to have coffee with any notable figure from your field, alive or dead. Who is it, and what does each of you order?

 If I could get coffee with any notable figure, it would be Harry Styles. I would order an iced vanilla latte, and he would order a vanilla latte with a shot of caramel cream. #TreatPeopleWithKindess