Former WISD teacher keeps cursive alive through calligraphy

Calligraphy instructor Carrie Ellis

After teaching at Weatherford ISD for seven years, Carrie Ellis decided to change the course of her career and is now attempting to keep the art of cursive alive through calligraphy.

Ellis was born and raised in Weatherford and attended Stephen F. Austin State University, graduating with her teaching degree in 2012. After graduation, Ellis moved right back to Weatherford and got a job teaching at Weatherford ISD.

“I taught third and second grade here in Weatherford and after my son was born, it had always been a dream to stay home, so we made that a thing. I kind of got into playing around with calligraphy about five years ago — I had just bought some pens and was interested from Instagram videos — and am self-taught,” Ellis said. “Then I got into pointed pen calligraphy and I went to some classes in Denton, and became obsessed. I just kept doing it and last year the Weatherford Community Education program sent out emails to employees saying they needed people to teach classes over the summer, so I did two classes through them over the summer and I loved it. It was fulfilling as a teacher, but also for my artistic side. I jumped in on that and decided to do some classes on my own.”

Ellis now teaches calligraphy classes all over the area and also does specialty calligraphy for weddings and home decor.

Weatherford resident Renee Flippo Fox has been a client of Ellis’s for about six months.

“Calligraphy signs are super popular, but you usually have to buy what the store has and I didn’t want what the store had, and then I saw Carrie’s stuff,” Fox said. “She’s really good at what she does and you get what you want. I’ve taken her several pieces of things, like old windows and I had an old metal, antique sheet of ceiling tin and then she just does her thing on it. It’s original and that’s my favorite part. Anything I throw at her she says, ‘Let me give it a try,’ so she’s super open, very sweet and easy to work with.”

Ellis said she loves doing it all and doesn’t want to restrict herself to one thing when it comes to calligraphy.

“I’m all over the place with it and I don’t feel like I want one little niche, I want it all,” Ellis said. “I love wedding calligraphy, but I also love home calligraphy and teaching.”

Ellis said she also feels that calligraphy is an important skill to teach.

“When I was in elementary school they told my mom that maybe I should work on my fine motor skills because my handwriting was so bad,” Ellis said. “So, in fourth grade my teacher was Beth Batista — she really inspired me to be a teacher — and being able to learn cursive through her, I always love cursive more than print. I kept up with cursive because I had some handwriting obstacles to overcome.”

Batista said it’s humbling to know that Ellis went on to teaching.

“It’s humbling, totally humbling because I was just doing my job and you never know when you make an impression,” Batista said. “It was my fourth-grade teacher that made me become a fourth-grade teacher and to know that this was passed on is incredible.”

Batista said she has taken one of Ellis’ calligraphy courses.

“It was good, she’s a great teacher and very understanding of those of us who are artistically challenged. It was encouraging enough where I went ahead and gave it a try,” Batista said. “It’s funny because I taught her cursive and then, in turn, she taught me calligraphy. She posts videos of her doing it and they’re kind of hypnotic, they’re beautiful.”

Ellis said she was able to teach cursive her first year at WISD, and once it was taken out of the curriculum, she continued.

“When I was teaching, the first year I taught, cursive was still in the curriculum. After that, it just went away, but I still taught it. I still thought it was very important that my students understood cursive — not only is it an art, but you have to be able to sign your name,” Ellis said. “It’s a struggle for so many people and I just always thought it was important, especially when I got into teaching calligraphy.”

Batista, who taught for 27 years, also feels cursive is important for children to learn.

“There’s a lot of debate whether to teach cursive or not, people don’t do cursive well, but I think it’s hand-eye coordination and I think it’s important,” Batista said. “Even the kids that didn’t do cursive, I required it and each kid had their own unique signature that was them. What was really sad to me is toward the end of my teaching career, I would write in cursive and there were kids who couldn’t read it and that’s kind of sad.”

Batista said Ellis is a great person and she’s proud of her.

“I’m so proud of her for taking on this venture,” Batista said. “I mean, who would have thought that me teaching her cursive she would have ended up doing this, and it’s beautiful what she does. Her signs, the things she does for weddings, it’s gorgeous.”

In the future, Ellis is hoping to open a home office for calligraphy where she can expand her services and teachings in other locations around the Parker County area.

Ellis’ classes are open to all ages. For more information visit www.carrieelliscalligraphy.com or her Facebook page, Carrie Ellis Calligraphy. 

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