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Educator shares secrets to successful 37-year career

Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2019 | Views: 2682

Educator shares secrets to successful 37-year career

HAMMOND---No matter how times change, the classroom is still a sacred environment created to set students up for success, says a Tangipahoa Parish educator, who is wrapping up her 37th year in the classroom this spring.

Roxanne Quinn, a curriculum coach, teacher mentor, and AP coordinator at Hammond High Magnet, finds herself teaching a second generation of students today and with almost four decades of experience in the classroom, this teacher remains committed to helping students “step out into the community … with a strong work ethic, a desire to be the best that they can be in whatever role they choose after they graduate, and a commitment to be active citizens with a sense of personal integrity, dignity and respect.”

A Tangipahoa native and an alumna of the high school where she has served for more than 20 years, Quinn describes her career as one of “teaching….and learning!”

A graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Quinn began her teaching career at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Ponchatoula, where she taught middle school and junior high students social studies, P.E., and coached volleyball for three years. “It was literally the place I learned to teach,” Quinn recalls, talking about her work with the Sisters of Notre Dame, who led the school back until the mid-to-late 1980s.

From SJS, Quinn spent six years teaching at Xavier University Preparatory School in New Orleans. She said those were wonderful years where she first experienced working with high school students. She taught “everything from Global Perspectives to Law and all the social sciences you can name in between” as well as sponsored the Speech Club, Student Council, and ultimately became a department head and a part-time administrator. “I was a teacher in the morning, Dean of Student Affairs in the afternoons,” Quinn recalled.

While working at Xavier Prep, Quinn continued to commute to and from Tangipahoa Parish, tutoring students in Ponchatoula during her off-time. “It was a fabulous and cherished part of my career,” she said, adding that this part-time work also taught her how to teach to each particular student’s individual needs. Inspired by the experience, Quinn moved back to Tangipahoa and pursued her Masters in Education with an emphasis on Educational Leadership from SLU. While there, she worked at Holy Ghost Catholic School, her childhood alma mater.

“It is always a wonderful feeling to give back to the school community that raised me.” She spent six years at HGCS, including four years as an assistant principal before “a door opened for me at Hammond High.”

Returning to her own high school alma mater was “the ultimate dream come true” and represented not only chance to give back to her high school, but also “the opportunity to once again work with teenagers,” which she considers her personal niche.

“I have had the pleasure of working with our adolescent population for 22 years now, and I remain as passionate and idealistic as I was from day one when I walked into the classroom so long ago,” Quinn said.

So much so, Quinn offers no plan to retire. In fact, she says young teachers often ask her what keeps her going in a profession that statistically shows two in five teachers will leave within their first five years in the classroom.

“I have never perceived it as ‘work,’ or should I say, as a job,” Quinn admits. She recalls learning to work hard beginning at an early age, developing a strong work ethic. “I have worked as many as three jobs at once. There is no denying that it is laborious to the tasks required as an educator, but for me, having worked in the business sector for about 10 years, being an educator has not felt like work.”

“I suppose what really has kept me at this all these years is that being an educator feels more like a privilege to serve the community in the mission of community building, shaping the next generation of neighbors, local business owners, public servants, the service industry, of moms and dads, and the list goes on,” Quinn said, adding that, "The teachers who taught me were life-giving and masters at working with young people to get them to the next level year in and year out. They were very inspirational in their roles as educators. They planted the seeds, nurtured the sprout, grew the plants for future teachers to continue the tradition and find their way in discovering their niche in life.”

A 2017 inductee into the SLU College of Education’s Educator Honor Roll Wall, Quinn spends her spare time writing. She said one of her writing projects is a book exploring her learning and teaching journey, a project inspired by one of her strongest teaching influences, her 7th grade teacher Sara Smythe.

"She was a retired SLU High School Lab teacher when she joined the staff at Holy Ghost as junior high social studies teacher. She knew my love for writing and my passion for the social sciences. We had quite a serious talk about my future one day, and she told me to be a teacher. She said it will put food on the table and a roof over your head. Experience and live life to the fullest. When the time is right, start writing during your summer breaks. Have the best of both worlds. I did as she said, and I’ve taken that experience and living life to the fullest to the school house, and the school house has given back far more than food on the table and the roof. It has given me the pages of my books,” Quinn said.

 
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