An inquisitive nature and love of learning can be powerful motivators in life. And they don’t have to end once a student walks the stage at graduation.
Longtime educator Amy Barnhill is a good example.
The University of Houston-Victoria School of Education & Human Development assistant professor spends much of her time mentoring others who want to teach. Away from the classroom, however, she has other projects.
One project with assistant professor Rachel Martinez explores MP3 players and the influence they have on reading fluency. Another involves bridging the cultural gap by introducing Western teaching models into Islamic teaching traditions.
“Both of the subjects really interest me,” she said. “It’s rewarding to kind of take a deeper look into issues but, really, it’s also a lot of fun.”
Barnhill earned a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education from the University of Iowa. She went on to obtain her master’s degree in reading and a doctorate in education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The mother of four admitted she didn’t always know that education was her calling. After a few years in the field, however, she knew she was in the right place.
“I realized that that’s really where I’m meant to be,” she said. “Education is intellectually stimulating but also emotionally satisfying, and those are two things I felt I needed in a career. It’s a great fit for me.”
Through the years, Barnhill’s work included time as a middle school reading and English teacher, an elementary school reading specialist and a faculty member at multiple universities.
She has worked for UHV since 2007 and teaches classes at the UH System at Cinco Ranch, where the university offers a variety of degree programs.
Kappa Delta Pi, a new education honor society that got off the ground last school year, is one new way the education school engages students. As the organization’s co-sponsor, Barnhill said she’s already seen positive effects.
“I think that the students, especially in Cinco Ranch, were really craving some kind of social organization,” she said about the group, which takes part in community service events, social activities and more. “Kappa Delta Pi was just the right thing at the right time. We’ve had a lot of success.”
Looking forward, Barnhill hopes to continue her research endeavors and work to improve her own teaching methods.
As for the university, she said good things are in store for the education program, and she’s ready to be part of it.
“I think we have some positive ideas for drawing more undergraduate and graduate students into our program,” Barnhill said. “I would hope that I could help be an instrumental part of that growth. I want to do what I can.”
The Faculty Feature is an online feature highlighting faculty members from each of the University of Houston-Victoria’s four schools. To nominate a faculty member, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.