Victorianist joins EWC as Assistant Professor of English
Paris Hendry left Houston, Texas, population of about 2.3 million, on Aug. 6 and headed northwest 1,183 miles to Torrington, Wyoming, population 6,062.
“I’d never heard of Torrington, Wyoming before” applying for the Assistant Professor of English position at Eastern Wyoming College, she said.
Hendry grew up in Houston, just 10 minutes from NASA. Though she lived in the big city, she attended a small private high school, Family Christian Academy.
“I was part of a graduating class of nine people,” she said. “I’m use to small class sizes.”
It was in her senior year in high school she was reading “Beowulf.” The class was to read the book and do a character sketch. She liked the book so much Hendry decided to study English in college.
One of the things that fascinated her with the book was one side the text was in modern English and on the other side the text was in old English.
“I always thought English was fantastic,” she said. People often refer to William Shakespeare’s writing as old English, however, Hendry points out, it is actually middle English. “Old English does not bear much resemblance to our English today.” As for the book that drew her into her pursuit of a career in English, she said, “I’ve reread “Beowulf” since and I don’t even really like it.”
After high school Hendry studied English at Texas A&M where she received her Bachelor’s degree in English. She followed it up with a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.
She then returned to Houston and began teaching middle school English at a Sacred Heart Catholic School. At the same time, she was studying for a second Master’s degree in English at the University of Houston.
Upon graduating from the University of Houston Hendry worked as an adjunct professor teaching English for two different community colleges; San Jacinto Community College and Lone Star Community College, both in Houston.
“I started looking for a full-time teaching position and applied at Eastern Wyoming College,” she said.
When she heard back from EWC she looked up Torrington, Wyoming on the internet.
“I visited the main city website, and it seemed like a cute little town,” she said. “I thought, may be fun to try out small town life.”
She accepted the job, packed up her bags and “my dog, Bayley” and headed out of Houston.
“I came in (to Torrington) from Denver and it was really pretty,” Hendry said.
Hendry and Bayley arrived in Torrington on Aug. 8, increasing the population by one person and one Corgi. She started work two days later.
Moving from the big city to Torrington has been a good move. “No one knows anyone in Houston, you are a stranger everywhere you go, but not here,” she said. “Everyone (in Torrington) is really nice and very welcoming.”
Bayley has also made herself well known and “everyone has been very friendly” to her as the two take walks around town. “She makes her presents well known,” Hendry said. “Most of the people in town already know her name.”
Hendry is teaching Freshman Composition and Technical Writing this semester. But the class she would love to teach is Victorian Literature.
“I’m a Victorianist,” she said. A Victorianist is defined as an expert in the Victorian period. “Nineteenth century literature as a whole.” The Victorian Era was the period in the United Kingdom during Queen Victoria’s reign from June 20, 1837 until her death on Jan. 20, 1901. It was a time of rapid social, political and scientific changes in Great Britain. “The Victorian Era was a fascinating time period,” Hendry said. “The Victorian novels were the first real modern literature. It is a fun era to study, because of all the changes going on.”She taught a course on Victorian literature over the summer for a private tutoring company.
“Paris brings a coherence in teaching philosophy and practice to the English program,” EWC Associate Professor of English Kelly Strampe said. “She is enthusiastic and has experience teaching at multiple educational levels, which benefits our diverse community college student population.
“She is a delight to work with; she is clearly a team player,” Strampe added. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know her on a personal level because she is easy to talk to and fun to be around.”
One of the biggest adjustments in moving from Houston to Torrington, she said was Sundays in a small town.
“I was shocked my first Sunday here,” she said. “Everything was closed. In Houston the stores closed were Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby. In Torrington, the only place open is the grocery store. That’s been my biggest adjustment.”