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Faces of Baylor: Elijah Anderson-Barrera (Profe)
Javier Nieto

Ever since Elijah Anderson-Barrera moved with his wife and daughter from Los Angeles, where he was born, to Chattanooga to teach at Baylor 18 years ago, he has had a great positive impact on our community.

Among many roles, he is also an AP Spanish teacher and a crucial member of the ASSIST program. Fluent in multiple languages, he studied Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts and spent a year studying in India, where he learned to speak Hindi. 

His teaching journey began after he completed his studies, when he started using his knowledge of Spanish to help public school students with non-English backgrounds learn English as a foreign language. After this, he lived in Puerto Rico for two years, where he attained an M.A., and then became a Baylor teacher.

During his time at Baylor, Anderson-Barrera has coached soccer, served as department chair for foreign languages, and been much more than a language teacher to the students who have been lucky to sit in his classroom. Always with a smile on his face and ready to mentor, his passion for teaching is contagious to colleagues and inspiring to students. He says he never gets tired of the joy and curiosity of young people, and finds meaning when he learns of his students’ successes. 

“I love to see my students come back after having an interaction with a native Spanish speaker so proud of themselves and wanting to share this experience with me," said Anderson-Barrera.  "Sometimes it is someone they met in an airport, on a vacation, or in their daily lives in Chattanooga. When they are able to communicate, it's really meaningful. I'm so very proud of my students who have gone on to use Spanish in their daily lives, in their careers, or in their personal life. I really believe that Spanish is a life skill and not just an academic subject.”

Speaking about his motivation for learning foreign languages, Anderson-Barrera says, “I have had the fortune to make many friends over my life both in English and in Spanish, and I think that becoming bilingual just doubles the amount of interesting people you can meet.”

Baylor offers Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Latin.  When asked about the world languages at Baylor, Anderson-Barrera says, “The world language program is really incredible, and we are lucky to have great teachers and students in our program. Teaching five languages is really unusual for any school, and I am very proud of the initiatives that we have brought to fruition. I'm so happy for the programs I was a part of as department chair to grow and improve under the guidance of Ruth Ann Graham.”

Teaching at Baylor has allowed Anderson-Barrera to remain connected to the Spanish-speaking world. He has travelled with students to Peru, Costa Rica, and Spain. Furthermore, he has experienced Baylor as a parent and says he is thankful for his daughter’s experience. Interestingly, one will rarely hear the name “Mr. Anderson-Barrera Barrera” at Baylor because most of his students call him “Profe,” which means “teacher” in Spanish. He says students found it difficult to say his two three-syllable last names, so he just told them to use “Profe.”

Sadly for us, Anderson-Barrera’s journey at Baylor will come to an end with the conclusion of the 2021-22 academic year. He will return to teaching English as a foreign language to immigrants at a public school because he believes his bilingual abilities can be useful and wants to follow Baylor’s mission to make a positive difference in the world. Make sure to give the warmest farewell to Profe before it is too late!


 

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