University of Findlay alumna, Jena Hinds ’01, M’03, Ph.D., was recently on campus as the College of Education’s visiting educator. Hinds met with several education classes to discuss her diverse career in education, which includes completing multiple degrees and licenses, teaching in the classroom, working in higher education, and becoming a children’s book author.
Hinds is a graduate of Van Buren High School and started taking post-secondary classes at University of Findlay during her senior year, while she was expecting her oldest daughter. She chose to stay close to home and continued her education journey at Findlay. In 2001, she graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education 1-8 with an emphasis in mathematics.
After graduation, Hinds landed her first teaching job at Lakota High School as an intervention specialist. According to Hinds, it was a different experience. “I had an elementary education background and this position was in a high school and it was special education. I knew the knowledge to be able to teach, but I had to build my knowledge to be able to be an intervention specialist,” she said.
Shortly after starting at Lakota High School, she began working towards her master of arts in education with an intervention specialist emphasis. “During my time at Lakota, Findlay’s College of Education master’s program was really helpful,” said Hinds. She graduated from Findlay in 2003 with her master’s degree.
While earning her master’s, Hinds was hired at Glenwood Middle School where she taught for 15 years. During this time, she held several teaching positions in content areas such as history, language arts, and mathematics. Eventually, her entire position was focused around teaching mathematics. “It was a fun job. I realized that my passion was working with middle schoolers and all the challenges that came with that,” said Hinds. “My students were at the age where they needed to find who they were. I worked to discover how each child comprehended the material best. As an educator, you must remember that every child learns differently and every child comes from a different background.”
During her time at Glenwood, Hinds continued her education at University of Findlay by earning her principal licensure. She was mentored by her principal at Glenwood and mentioned, “it was so different seeing this aspect of education and the school system.” In 2006, Hinds received her principal licensure.
She continued to teach at Glenwood Middle School and in 2012 she began her Ph.D. at the University of Toledo. Hinds and her family eventually decided to move to the Toledo area where she started teaching in the Toledo private school system. “It was an opportunity for me to experience another segment of education,” said Hinds. “Toledo’s culture and education requirements were different, which helped me grow as an educator.”
In 2020, Hinds finished her Ph.D. and took a position as a Coordinator of Special Education and Assistant Professor at Lourdes University. For Hinds, working at the grade school level versus the college level is a night and day difference. “I enjoy being able to take what I’ve learned and share those practices with future teachers,” she said.
During her first-year teaching in higher education, Hinds started and completed her first children’s book. Since then, Hinds has written a total of three children’s books known as: “This is Me,” “Little Brown Puppy with Big Paws,” and “Gigi’s Big Day Back to School.” Hinds’ books promote diversity, feelings, and acceptance. Hinds wants readers of her books to own their differences.
Hinds’ education career started at University of Findlay. Her advice for current and incoming University of Findlay students is to “enjoy the atmosphere and the faculty you have here, it’s not like that at every institution. It’s nice to have faculty that really care, want to see you succeed, and are comforting.”