Faculty Spotlight: Betsy Parrish

Faculty Spotlight: Betsy Parrish

Betsy Parrish, a Hamline education professor, through decades of experience and passion for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), exemplifies what it means to be an educator through passing on the excitement she has for her work to her students.
Parrish began her career at Hamline in 1991 when she established the TEFL program. She utilizes the experience gained from traveling the world throughout her life and collaborating with other educators to pass her knowledge of teaching to Hamline students. Not only does she provide this experience to her students, she is also transferring her passion.
“Betsy is the best. She is one of the best teachers I have ever had. I feel like all of our classes are really dense on material even though they don’t feel like it. We have a three hour class and sometimes it feels like we are just having discussions, we are just talking with her. She knows everything there is to know,” senior and TEFL program student Marissa Liao said.
Liao and a fellow senior, Jennifer Juarez Cano, share the sentiment that Parrish uses her skills and history with education to effectively teach this course.
“She is definitely one of my favorite professors … She observes how each student is and knows what their strengths are and what they can work on. I feel much more connected to her than most professors because she is able to build that relationship with you and help you grow,” Cano said.
Recently, due to factors attributed to COVID-19, enrollment in the TEFL program has greatly decreased, yet this decline in attendance is not indicative of a reduction in the quality of the program. Both Cano and Liao expressed that TEFL has an undeniable impact on their current lives and their future careers due to the skills that one gains while enrolled in it.
“[TEFL] has really taught me to come out of my shell and guide people in a way. It’s taught me how to be more mindful when I am talking to others, being able to lead and be more confident,” Cano said.
These leadership skills also transfer nicely into Liao’s current occupation as a Spanish teacher.
“I am learning classroom management skills and language acquisition skills and even though we are learning specifically more towards adults and immigrants, it applies to kids, who I teach now,” Liao said.
Parrish has ignited the enthusiasm for teaching in her students and is able to trace back through her history to find where that same sentiment emerged in herself. After completing high school, Parrish took a year to live in France, where her now lifelong journey of teaching English began.
“I came back [to America] and majored in French and linguistics as an undergrad, and that’s where my passion for living abroad and language really emerged,” Parrish said.
She continually supports her students and understands their perspective as newcomers to the teaching world.
“I really appreciate how understanding she is of beginning students. She has been doing this since before I was born,” Liao said. “I think it is really hard sometimes to understand where people are coming from when they are just starting out teaching. And when you’ve been at it for so long, you can forget that not everything is intuitive. She does a really great job in our class.”
For a multitude of reasons, Parrish is immensely proud of the work that she does and the impact that she is able to have on her students, and she is just as grateful for this program as the participants are.
“TEFL is the one thing I teach that affords me the chance to work with amazing Hamline undergraduates from across many different disciplines, which I enjoy immensely,” Parrish said over email.
She has found her way to where she is now by trying new things and deciding that the best track for her to follow was her own. She passes this on to students that are figuring out where to be led when they can actually lead themselves.
“You can really create your path. I want to inspire students to see that they can create a path. Through taking risks, through trying things out,” Parrish said.

Getting to know Betsy:
What are you passionate about outside of Hamline?: “I’m really passionate about music. I was in a choral society for years […] and I try to keep up with playing the piano. Also just going to hear music. […] Also just being outdoors, hiking, walking, biking. […] I try to do the outdoorsy stuff and the music to give me balance.”
If you could have any creature as a pet, what would it be?: “What keeps popping in my mind is a koala bear. They are so sweet and cozy and cuddly. I have always thought they are so cute.”
What is your favorite season?: “Definitely Fall. I love the change of the leaves, the colors. I love that it is cool and not humid anymore. I love fall.”
What are your favorite movies/ tv shows?: “Recently, we just rewatched Six Feet Under. […] One of my go to movies I go back to and rewatch is Cinema Paradiso.”

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