Recent NewsJanuary 7, 2022
Student Spotlight: Brian Ellis’22 (Adolescence and Special Education, M.Ed.)
This week, we're shining the spotlight on Brian Ellis, an exceptional Roberts Wesleyan graduate student who left the corporate world to pursue his dream of teaching. Through his passion for English Language Arts, Brian is raising the next generation to love culturally diverse literature. He is equipping his students to solve real world social problems, one page at a time.
How do you use your Roberts education to inform your current career?
I am currently a teaching assistant at The Norman Howard school and my education at Roberts has been absolutely phenomenal in terms of helping me with my career. As a “career changer” who is moving from retail leadership to education, the skills and information that I have learned during this program have been instrumental in helping me implement classroom skills that have the most impact on my students' learning and growth. With the skills that I have learned at Roberts, I know I will have a long and successful career in education.
Regarding your academic coursework at Roberts, what do you feel will be the most helpful after you graduate?
I believe that the two aspects of my Roberts education that will be the most helpful after graduation are the intense focus on teaching students with disabilities and on multi-modal instruction practices. In addition to this, the support and encouragement that I received while completing the research for my Master’s thesis were exceptional. I was able to focus my research on LGBTQIA+ literature curriculum in the English Language Arts (ELA) classroom, which is a particular area of my own professional interest. This research will be a major help to me after graduation. It has led me to desire to move forward with a doctoral program focusing on curriculum design and instruction so that I can continue to research and develop a fully inclusive ELA curriculum.
What is the best thing about studying your field?
I absolutely love the field of education. As a child and throughout my adolescent years, I had the goal of becoming an English teacher one day. After a 16-year detour into various fields of retail and business leadership, returning to my passion of teaching has been a dream many years in the making and has been everything I expected it to be and more.
What course (so far) has been your favorite and why?
There are two courses that I would consider my favorites thus far. First, Application of Literacy Theory with Professor Coirazza. As an English educator, literacy is near and dear to my heart. I believe everyone has the right and the need to learn how to read, as well as the need to be able to comprehend that which they read. This course was engaging, in-depth, and extremely helpful in my current role working with students who have challenges with basic reading and reading comprehension skills. The second course would be Methods of Content Instruction with Dr. Emily Robinson. Dr. Robinson made the course engaging and entertaining, with assignments that were helpful in developing future classroom teaching skills and techniques. In addition to this, the ability to work with a content specialist throughout the course was extremely helpful in order to develop lesson and unit plans for future use.
Who is your favorite professor and why?
Dr. Clifford is my favorite professor due to his unyielding support and guidance during the thesis process. Not only is he a phenomenal instructor, but he is also engaging and realistic in his expectations. Dr. Clifford is always willing to answer questions and help anytime a student finds themselves struggling to overcome a hurdle. I highly recommend him to future students who are working on their Master’s research.
How do you aspire to serve others?
As I mentioned previously, I have always had a desire to teach others and to help them with their literacy skills. I believe that literature should be a gateway to learning about life and the world around us, not only about studying “seminal” works of literature that have been deemed “worthy” by the generations before us. I want to help students learn to love literature and reading by giving them the opportunity to read texts that represent them culturally and allow them to learn about the cultures of other people. In doing so, I want to help them learn how to solve the social problems that students face in their everyday lives.
What are your career plans after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to continue my education by pursuing a doctoral program in curriculum instruction and design while moving from a teaching assistant position to a classroom teacher position in English language arts, reading, or special education.
What advice would you give to incoming Adult and Graduate students?
First, make sure you have people who support you in your graduate endeavors. Having family or friends on your side to help push you and support you when you need it is of the utmost necessity when entering a rigorous course of study. Second, time management is key. Do not wait until the last minute to complete assignments. Try to get ahead on coursework as much as possible so that you do not run into a situation where you feel overwhelmed or overburdened with work to be completed.
“As an educator, Brian exemplifies both the art and science of teaching. He is a natural leader with the ability to create purposeful and relevant lessons that maximize student engagement and learning. In addition, his approachable and friendly demeanor makes him a powerful role model for everyone he interacts with. Brian has and will continue to be a positive force in education!”
-Emily Robinson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education
"Brian has been an exceptional graduate student at Roberts Wesleyan. Bringing in real-world experiences from his time working in management, combined with the passion to work with struggling and underrepresented students, he will have a bright future as an educator. He is a role model that other graduate students looked to as an exemplar of what it means to be dedicated to the craft of teaching and to work hard. He has always found a way to bring out the best from everybody he has been around. Brian embodies the best of what Roberts Wesleyan College represents.”
-Dr. John Clifford, Adjunct Professor of Education
Do you know an exceptional and current Roberts Wesleyan student? We're looking for anything notable, not just grades – have they earned a new job, award, or internship? Started a business? Whatever makes your ears perk up, let us know. Click here to recommend a student.
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