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Caitlin Lunsford


Cultural Studies of Educational Foundations

Caitlin is currently seeking her MS in Cultural Studies of Educational Foundations. Originally from Maryville, Tennessee she received her BS in elementary education at Berry College and came to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2015. We asked her to reflect on some of her past and current experiences. Read her responses below.


Adult English as a Second Language Teacher
University-Assisted Community Schools program at Pond Gap Elementary School

Once a week, I teach an adult ESL class to speakers of other languages in the community. Each week, students choose topics in grammar, vocabulary and life skills, and we spend the class learning and practicing those skills. We share stories, questions, language, and sometimes food!


Current Occupation

English as a Second Language Teacher
Amherst Elementary and Pond Gap Elementary School in Knoxville, TN

I travel between my two schools each day to teach kindergarten through fifth grade English Language Learners. I work with students from all over the world, with proficiency levels ranging from nearly native speakers to newcomers that have just arrived in the US. Each of my students receives an hour of English instruction in reading, writing, listening and speaking in order to help them succeed in the mainstream classroom. I have a fantastic group of students who are eager to learn and grow despite the many obstacles they face in their lives. They are truly an inspiration!

Personal Interests

I believe one of the most exciting parts of my job is the possibility for travel! I have traveled to India and Costa Rica, and hope to travel and teach more during the summers. I also enjoy any kind of music and arts event, preferably outdoors. Camping, hiking, traveling, music and art are some of my favorite ways to find balance in work and school. I’m also learning that there are many talented musicians and artists to enjoy right here in Knoxville!

Future/Vocational Goals

While I am still unsure of my long-term vocational goals, I am particularly interested in social justice publications and organizations related to education. I am also open to the possibility of teaching and researching abroad.

What sold you on this program/university?

When I began researching possible programs, my interests aligned closely with the themes in the CSE program, and I was directed to Barbara Thayer-Bacon, professor, here at UT. She graciously met with me one evening to discuss the program. She explained that the broadness of the program would give me a chance to tailor my coursework to my passions and interests. She was also able to show me exactly what kind of classes I would be taking, and what I would need to be successful. I left feeling as if I had stepped into exactly the right place, and I believe I did!

What would you tell an incoming student who joins the program?

Your voice will be heard in this program! Students are encouraged to share ideas and learn from one another and the community. This program will also inspire you to “think outside the box” and apply your knowledge to the world outside of academia. Your ideas are valuable, and the Cultural Studies of Educational Foundations program is a wonderful place to share them.