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Elizabeth Dennis: Creating confident writers

By Maria Haynie

According to tradition, a certain Phoenician prince named Cadmus became both the founder of the city of Thebes and the introducer of an alphabet and writing to the Greeks. While adjunct instructor Elizabeth Dennis may not claim ancient Olympian powers, she has diverse gifts that she brings to her writing and mythology students at Columbia College-Kansas City.

“When students leave my class, they know their weaknesses and what they need to improve upon with their writing,” Dennis said. “But most importantly, they know their strengths as a writer and how effective they can be as a writer, whatever class they next take.”

Her current English 111, 112 and 210 students often represent a variety of majors, so part of her quest is to accommodate the diversity of interest, skill and level of writing confidence. Dennis has adopted a teaching style she describes as a “discussion/workshop based approach.” She structures her class around key texts and expects her students to come ready to discuss the materials. As she guides the conversation, the students “teach” her what they have learned, which both improves their grasp of the concepts and their ability to express themselves.

“I have taught for 13 years, and I love teaching students at Columbia College,” Dennis said.

Dennis earned her Bachelor of Arts in Letters, with a minor in French, from the University of Oklahoma and her Master of Arts in Literature, with a specialization in women’s studies, from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She squeezes time for her hobbies, reading and cooking, around her work as a paralegal in an estate planning attorney’s office and her teaching career.

Dennis treasures the opportunity the classroom gives her to help students access their own muses and empowering them to value their own creativity and writing.

“My favorite thing about teaching students at Columbia College is the enjoyment I feel when students come to my class apprehensive about writing and leave confident in their writing abilities and unique talents,” Dennis said.

 

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