The path to a rewarding teaching career

New French teacher, Renata Barsanti, proudly poses outside of her classroom. Barsanti arrived at Athens Drive at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, after a variety of teaching experiences.
New French teacher, Renata Barsanti, proudly poses outside of her classroom. Barsanti arrived at Athens Drive at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, after a variety of teaching experiences.
Photos by Brady Jones

Kicking off the 2023-2024 school year, Athens Drive has many new faces around the building. New staff members are teaching their first classes at The Drive in arts, elective and core classes. These teachers are ready to start a new chapter here, but have recently closed the book on their years at other schools and training to become educators. One of these teachers is Renata Barsanti, Athens Drive’s newest French teacher.

Barsanti is from Plymouth, North Carolina. She has been to many different schools to share her passion for French and has ended up at Athens. Barsanti has an interesting connection to Athens through 4H, a youth development club.

“I came from a small town; I was in 4H and we did speaking contests, and our state-level competitions were at Athens Drive. So when I was a kid I was like, ‘Oh my gosh this is the coolest school ever. They’ve got science labs, they’ve got kitchens, they’ve got everything!” said Barsanti.

Athens Drive is Barsanti’s fifth school to teach at, she has a variety of experience at high school, college, and elementary levels both in the U.S. and overseas. 

“My first teaching experience was in a high school and middle school in France, where I was an English teaching assistant. After that, I taught three years of elementary school in Louisiana,” Barsanti said. “After that, I taught university-level French for a couple of years at UMass Amherst. Through that I also did a semester of full-time high school teaching, and then last year I taught a year of university-level English at Toulouse, France.”

Barsanti originally pursued an undergraduate degree in comparative literature and French at UNC Chapel Hill. She continued into her master’s program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was involved with the ‘teaching assistantships’ opportunity that provided free tuition and board to student teachers for French undergraduate classes. But while Barsanti was mainly passionate about the French language and literature, she was no stranger to teaching. 

“My parents were both teachers, which made me say I didn’t want to go into education for the longest time, but I think it was my experience learning French and comparative literature in undergrad that really made me feel like sharing knowledge is super powerful and exciting, and I think it’s that idea of sharing the knowledge that initially kind of drew me to teaching,” said Barsanti.

In today’s environment, teaching as a profession is becoming less popular due to inadequate pay, long hours, and tiring days. These educators face the challenge of instructing our youth, and there is no doubt that they face overwhelming responsibility in their day-to-day careers. 

“I would say that my first year of full-time elementary school teaching in Louisiana was really, really hard. The first year of anything is tough, but that’s just- it’s very just mentally draining. It’s such a challenging profession, right? There’s a million things to think about at any given time,” said Barsanti.

But for teachers like Barsanti, the passion for inspiring youth is far more valuable. The idea of education is becoming more open-minded for students with different ways of learning, and Barsanti aims to have a learning environment that acknowledges this. 

“I try to be very dynamic, so I try to always be up and moving and if possible have my students up and moving. I try to change up activities a lot and switch things around as students need,” said Barsanti. “I like to try and learn students, and see what their learning styles are and then adjust accordingly. I try not to get stuck in one way, I try to keep things changing and moving so that it’s easy for students to stay engaged.” 

French 1 students have noticed the open teaching style Barsanti has. Ella Anderson, a sophomore and French 1 student, noted that studying a world language with Barsanti has been significantly more flexible than her past language experiences.

 “She definitely does a lot of interactive and different learning styles. She understands that people learn differently than other people,” said Anderson.

Many have found comfort in French with Barsanti, feeling valued and respected in the classroom. Furthermore, Barsanti’s students have noticed significant changes with their grades in French class. Sophomore Jaylin Miller attributes this change to Barsanti’s teaching style.

“She’s really kind about the way she goes about teaching,” said Miller. “She understands because at one point she was also a beginner.”

Athens Drive is fortunate to have yet another teacher with the goals of students in mind, and the unique background experience and knowledge to pass on. 

“It’s the kind of profession where I know that I will never stop growing and learning and getting better. As long as I’m putting in the work and listening to the students, being willing to change when it’s time to change,” said Barsanti.

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    BrentOct 25, 2023 at 9:18 pm

    Excellent article. It’s refreshing reading about strong new educators making an impact.