Ensights sits down with beloved Grade 4 teacher, Whitney Earhart.
What inspired you to be a teacher?
I think it’s in my blood. My grandmother was a teacher and my mother was, too! She worked in education for over 50 years. I studied psychology and earned my Master’s in counseling, so I expected that to be the path I would take, but I have always loved working with children
What drew you to Ensworth?
I know how great the education and the community can be in an independent school. I attended one for 12 years and loved it. When I moved to Nashville to attend grad school at Peabody at Vanderbilt, I was very fortunate that a fifth grade position at Ensworth opened up that same summer. I had two years of experience teaching fifth grade in Memphis, so it was a perfect fit.
What is your favorite part of the day?
My favorite part of the day is Morning Meeting. That time with my class is so important, and it’s a great way to start the day. We laugh, play games, and learn about each other.
What is one of your best Ensworth memories?
I have so many! The Chattanooga trip has provided me with many fun memories—one could be when a student went tumbling head over heels into a petting tank at the TN aquarium! Another year, our bus broke down stranding us for hours. We had a blast and even ordered pizza to the rest stop!
I absolutely love the special tradition of the class play. While it takes a lot of work and can be nerve-wracking, seeing my class work together to pull off a production is so rewarding. That moment when the show ends and every student is beaming with pride is one of my favorite moments every year.
How does Ensworth effectively promote civil discourse among students and prepare them to engage with others thoughtfully and respectfully?
As a teacher, I set the tone in my classroom. Staying calm and speaking to students in a respectful way that shows I value them and their ideas is a model for their interactions. At the outset of the year, we practice how to greet one another with eye contact and a friendly tone. We maintain this practice daily in our Morning Meetings. Our ‘Book Club’ meetings in fourth grade are a great opportunity for teaching civil discourse. Four times throughout a class novel, students rearrange their desks to face one another. They engage in discussion as they go through a series of questions. The students take turns speaking, acknowledge one another’s opinions, and share their ideas respectfully with minimal direction by me.
Share 3-5 facts about yourself that others might not know.
• Growing up, I was the only Whitney around, but as an adult, I’ve had three very close friends named Whitney.
• My dad was a naval aviator and my parents named my sister Amelia Earhart.
• Pre-COVID, I was a big concert-goer. I have every concert ticket organized in an album all the way back to my first one in high school.