As Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Diving into a good book opens up a whole world of knowledge starting from a very young age. For Bailey Jarnagin, a 2016 graduate of Truett McConnell University (TMU), pursuing an English degree would not only allow her to share this love of literature, but would also act as a ministry for her.
“I had my head in a book before I could read,” said Jarnagin. “When I was younger, I would flip through books and make up stories based on the pictures.” This love for literature has continued throughout her life as she explains, “there’s something special about being transported to another time period or a different world without ever leaving your living room.”
Teaching literature was something Jarnagin always envisioned. After graduating high school, she pursued her goal at TMU. Studying famous authors and poets through a Christian lens was eye-opening and something she does not take for granted. “It’s important to learn about the world and determine how we, as Christians, should respond and how God would have us respond,” Jarnagin said.
Jarnagin graduated from TMU in May 2016 with her B.A. in English. The following August, Jarnagin spent two years in Virginia pursuing her M.A. in English at Liberty University.
A Classroom Ministry
Upon completion of her master’s degree, Jarnagin applied for a position as an English teacher at Lanier Christian Academy (LCA). “When I went to the school to interview,” she said, “I felt this overwhelming peace and knew that’s where God wanted me.” Jarnagin eventually accepted a position at the academy teaching English and coaching cheerleading.
While settling in to her first year at LCA, Jarnagin explains how she not only has a passion for teaching but also for ministering to students. “The most rewarding part of my job is when I have a conversation with students about their lives outside of the classroom. They realize that I’m not just there to critique their work and give them grades — I’m there because I care and because I want them to know how much God cares.”
The educator credits her TMU English professors, specifically Dr. H. Walton Young and Dr. Constance Nunley, who helped shape how she teaches in her classroom. “I liked the round table discussion style of their classes, and I do the same thing in my own classes.”
“I also appreciate the encouragement they gave me. I’m a more confident writer because of them.”
Jarnagin also teaches a dual enrollment course at LCA, making her the first Truett McConnell University alumna to teach English for TMU.
Miss to Mrs.
Jarnagin maintains several life-long friendships made in her four years at TMU. “The friends I did life with at TMU are still some of my best friends. Even though we now live in different locations, we still talk regularly and get together at least once a year.”
Next year, in early March, many of these friends will witness a special day in Jarnagin’s life as she marries her college sweetheart, Fletcher Humphrey.
More to Come
Currently, the English teacher is pursuing her Ed.D. in Christian Leadership from Liberty University.
God has brought Jarnagin on an incredible journey, and she credits TMU for giving her the tools she needs to not only teach but to honor the Lord in her vocation. She sums up her path with a simple quote by famous author, Flannery O’Connor: “There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.”
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