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New high school teacher has a global focus

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff

It takes global experience to teach a global perspective.

New Park City High School teacher Julia Barrus has spent time in Brazil and Iceland, speaks English, Portuguese, Spanish and a little bit of Icelandic. Her focus in the classroom touches on classic literature and also looks at Latin-American, Asian-American, African-American and Middle Eastern authors.

The San Diego native also believes in appealing to a student’s personality as well as intellect. Barrus does this through what she calls a humanist approach, which includes helping the students to learn by using examples they can relate to.

"I believe in teaching the whole child," Barrus said.

While it can be a challenge to educate every student, it is a cause she believes in.

"I literally do love every one of the students that walks in my door," she said.

In her experience, every student comes around, even those who are difficult to reach because she treats her eleventh- and twelfth-grade students like human beings.

"I try so hard to make sure that every kid is learning what they need in my classroom," she said.

Barrus is increasingly equipped to do this. This past June she earned her masters degree in English teaching from the University of Phoenix.

A part of the Park City School District since winter 2004, Barrus loves the small-town feel of the area, yet appreciates its diversity. The Fourth of July Parade on Main Street is her favorite event each year.

She is raising her two-and-a-half year-old daughter here and when asked if she will attend Park City High School Barrus said, "I hope so."

Most recently Barrus was employed at Treasure Mountain International School teaching English part-time. Her newest gig has full-time hours and Barrus said she is enjoying the new job.

"So far the faculty has been extremely nice and supportive," she said.

The students have been equally receptive.

"They’re very interested, curious about what I have to say," she said.

It is fun for them too.

"We learn, but we also have a good time," she said. "They make me laugh every day."

Barrus became a teacher to make a difference. She noted a lot of people cannot remember who won the Academy Award the year they graduated from high school, but they remember their high school English teacher.

"One of my favorite things is when my old students come to visit," she said.

Another one of the most rewarding things about her work, she said, is when a student is able to grasp a new concept and finally say ‘I get it.’

"It’s one of those jobs that is so rewarding," she said.

Barrus acknowledges it can be difficult, but is optimistic for this generation.

"This generation has had a lot of negative things said about them because they have so much privilege," she said. "I see people who want to be awakened to the world around them."


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