Flower Mound High School
Flower Mound, TX, USA
Field: Grammar and Writing Instruction
“I don’t think there is anything better than just sitting down with a book and digging into it,” says Elayne Camp Sanders, an English teacher for Flower Mound High School, located in Texas. Throughout her nearly four decades in education, she has been a strong advocate for reading and has helped guide her students through the practice of writing, aiding them in refining their skills. She simply states, “To become a better writer, you write.”
As the daughter of two educators, it seemed only natural that Ms. Sanders would pursue a career as a teacher herself, which led her to The University of Tennessee, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in English, with a minor in history, in 1966. With more than 38 years in the profession, she has taught in Tennessee, Texas and Europe. Prior to joining Flower Mound High School, she worked for the University of Maryland, while in Europe. In her current capacity, she uses her expertise in grammar and writing to teach English to students in grades 9 through 12, ensuring that each meets Individualized Education Program (IEP) objectives. Ms. Sanders also functions as a special education resource teacher and would like to see people look at individuals with special needs the same way they look at all others. She has also served as a co-area director of the Special Olympics in Tennessee for two years.
Ms. Sanders always puts the focus on her students, and her best advice to other professionals is “Show an interest in them (the students) and they will respond.” As a result of her hard work and dedication, she was nominated as the Tennessee Teacher of the Year in 1991. She remains current in her field through her affiliations with the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of Teachers of English, and the Council for Exceptional Children.
Ms. Sanders has been married to her husband, Larry, for 46 years, and they have two children and three grandsons. Looking ahead, she intends to strengthen her technology skills.
Conversation with Elayne Camp Sanders
Worldwide Publishing: On what topics do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Elayne Camp Sanders: English.
What characteristics help to separate you from your competitors?
I took an interest in all of my students.
What motivates you?
Getting the love from the students.
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
I didn’t originally graduate with a special education certificate.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field?
Each student is an individual who deserves respect and support to achieve his/her goals to the best of each student’s abilities.
Did you ever consider pursuing a different career path or another profession?
No, because no other profession can give the rewards one can derive from teaching.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
After the students have graduated, they often come back to school to see me or meet me on the street and tell me how much they appreciated having me as their teacher and how much they learned by having had me.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
Both my parents were my inspiration. They dedicated their entire lives to education and the future of children. I saw their joys, hardships, and long hours. They were well-respected and loved within the education community and the town where we lived.
What changes have you observed in your industry/field since you started?
Bureaucracy and education “experts” far removed from the classroom setting are now telling teachers how and what to teach without getting appropriate teacher input.
How do you see these changes affecting the future of your industry?
The changes discussed above are causing teachers to look elsewhere and/or leave the teaching profession. This is due to their high level of frustration by this intrusion on how to use their teacher knowledge and skills.
What short-term and long-term career goals are you currently pursuing?
I have reached the point in my life where I have recognized it is the time to retire.
How do you plan to achieve these goals?
At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, I will retire from the teaching profession.
What is your favorite or least favorite work-related task to do and why?
The most difficult area in English for most students is writing. Getting the students to select a topic of writing is difficult enough, but getting them to add to their writing (called elaboration) is the hardest area to develop. My job is to encourage and show the students that elaboration will draw the reader in and will make the words, images, and experiences they are trying to relate more exciting.
What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?
A person wanting to teach should do a personal evaluation on how well he/she relates to other people. A teacher will always be surrounded by students, other teachers, parents, education professionals, and school support staff. Teaching is a profession of building relationships.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
The most significant issue facing education today is finding the level of testing and evaluation to meet the requirements of accountability established by various state and federal agencies. The testing should be such that it does not take from the true purpose of education.