By Amber Ginter ‘19
English Professor Scott Barr, after over four decades of teaching, is no stranger to being productive during Central Ohio's long, hot summers. Investing in summer projects this year, Barr found his activities refreshing and fruitful.
In May, Barr became lead writer for Ohio Christian University’s (OCU) accreditation report for the Higher Learning Commission. In preparing for the Commission’s 2019 visit, he is examining all aspects of OCU’s effectiveness. Barr met with the audit preparation team to discuss five main areas within 21 sub-components. These included how to meet standards and support claims with plans for improvement. Completing two-thirds of the project has occupied Barr’s time the past few months. He is putting into practice what he teaches his English Composition students. “This is a big project of about 100 pages,” Barr explains.
During the summer, Barr interacted with OCU friends, faculty, and retired teachers and classmates of Teays Valley High School’s Class of 1971. In May, he presented “Raising the Bar on College-level Writing” to teachers in the Trailblazer Academy/ College Credit Plus program and shared creative ideas on how to handle frustrating aspects of writing, encouraging educators to overcome challenges. Barr noted the importance of passionate discipline in teaching: “As Emerson writes, ‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ We need to bring God’s spirit into instruction,” he asserted.
In addition to OCU-related activity, God had many fruitful summer experiences for Barr. Speaking at Village Chapel, Barr referenced Psalm 90:12-17: “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” He related how this Biblical advice applies to his farm chores. “Since my riding mower broke, I have time to think as I walk laps with my push mower!” Of chasing his sheep back into the yard, farmer Barr asks, “Perhaps the grass was greener on the other side of the fence? ‘Good fences make good neighbors,’ wrote Robert Frost. I see the wisdom of this saying. I'm thankful that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leaves the 99 and comes after each of us when we are lost.”
When Barr isn’t writing, gardening, remodeling his house, or tending his flock of Cheviot sheep, he is re-reading Wendell Berry’s fiction. Berry’s Civil War to World War II works particularly inspire Barr since he wrote his master’s thesis on Berry in 1975. Figuratively, Barr has spent time in Berry’s fictional community, Port William, Kentucky, which influences his teaching. “I teach a course on ‘The Beloved Community’ and hope to again next spring.”
Coming to the end of his “stay-cation” of the summer’s long days of sweltering heat and now cooling nights, Barr reflects on a fruitful summer: “This has been a fun and productive summer. I’m ready for the new academic year. Bring on compositions and books, and especially the fall weather, football, and pumpkin pie!”
Perhaps Professor Barr’s productivity is instructive for nurturing our spiritual fruit?
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