Focus on Leadership

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Monica Hinds
El Toro HS English Teacher
UC Irvine Master Teacher

Becoming a high school English teacher has been the best decision I have ever made. In teaching, I have found a way to connect, express, learn, and educate. This energizes me and keeps me fulfilled. In my eleventh year of teaching, I still feel lucky to be an educator.

I grew up in Orange County with a wonderful family and circle of friends. I earned my bachelor’s degree in English at California State University, Fullerton. During college, I was fortunate enough to take a semester abroad in Oxford, England. This is where it became very clear to me that I was destined to teach English. I fell in love with literature and reading.

After deciding to become a teacher, I thought it best to move away from home to gain some perspective. I received my single subject teaching credential from San Francisco State University and was hired to teach middle school in Pacifica, California. During my first years of teaching, I was overwhelmed to say the least. Luckily I had an amazing master teacher and a huge support system in the staff at the middle school. They helped me with lesson planning, classroom management, and most of all, moral support. I can still hear their voices and see their faces when I teach. I am not sure I would have survived without them.

It took five years of living away from home and family to realize it was time to come home. I was hired to teach English at my old high school and learned to love freshman mentality. I have been teaching ninth grade ever since. While teaching full time, I went back to school to earn my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University. I now teach English 1, English 2, and Seminar 2 at El Toro High School. This school is my home.

A few years ago I was asked to be a UC Irvine Master Teacher and was thrilled by the opportunity. I have always wanted to help guide someone into becoming a teacher. This is only because my experience as a new teacher was wonderful, and I feel all student teachers deserve the same. This career is wonderful, but so emotionally demanding. It takes a nurturing personality to help cultivate and encourage a young teacher. I believe it is important that a novice teacher has the understanding and awareness they need to help start them on this journey. I take pride in my role as a master teacher and know I have a huge impact on my student teachers.

My experience with a student teacher from UC Irvine has been wonderful. Both the professionalism of the faculty and the course work of the program impressed me. After hearing about my student teacher’s classes and experiences with the credential program, I knew that UCI’s new teachers would be well prepared.

When I’m not teaching, I am with my family and friends. I have a wonderful husband who is a middle school principal and together we have our little Nate. He is the joy of our lives. Over the past two years Nate has filled our hearts with love and our home with delight. It’s good to be a family.