By her own admission, University of Findlay alumna Dr. Jenalee Hinds 01 M ’03 never thought she’d be able to call herself a published author.
Before the creation of the first of her two children’s books, Hinds, an assistant professor of education at Lourdes University in Sylvania, OH, was “big into teaching mathematics,” and, subsequently, counted numbers as her main focus. But, when she went from teaching in high school to a career in higher education, she said, she was able to spread her creative wings.
Hinds moved to Hancock County in the fourth grade, attending Van Buren High School in Van Buren, OH. When it was time to think about college, she said, there was a caveat that made sticking around the area very important; Hinds gave birth to a daughter when she was a senior in high school, and knew that if she stayed in the area, she could call on family to help her with her child. She also knew that she wanted to teach, and was aware of the reputation of UF and its college of education. Enamored by the “smaller class sizes and the professors that continuously care about student success,” she enrolled as a freshman. Having ultimately earned both a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with a concentration in mathematics and a Masters of Art in Education in Intervention Specialist in Mild to Moderate Disabilities from UF, it’s abundantly clear that she made the right choice for both herself and for her daughter. “Small class sizes and professors that cared made a difference going through the challenges that occurred being a young mom,” Hinds said.
Though her degree was concentrated in math, the first teaching job she took as an undergraduate alumna of UF was in special education at Lakota High School in Kansas, OH. “At that time [in 2001],” Hinds said, “it was hard to find a job in education, so I took the opportunity.” Building on the skills she took from that job, after a year there, she was hired in at Findlay City Schools (FCS), and, more specifically, at Glenwood Middle School, where she would go on to teach for fifteen years. Her focus there was as an intervention specialist, which could have been overwhelmingly daunting for a new teacher with little to no experience in the that specific area. Hinds, however, has always been a driven educator, and the preparation she got from UF was a boon to her success. “We started co-teaching and inclusion settings where I was team teaching with the general education teachers,” she explained. “This was a fun opportunity for me because of my educational background from Findlay. I was certified in [grades] one through eight in all subject areas.” She later was able to teach just math as, she added, “she became more seasoned as a teacher.”
Today, equipped with a doctorate in special education from The University of Toledo, Hinds is a full-time assistant professor at Lourdes University where she helps to educate incoming teacher candidates about the area of special education. Additionally, she is in charge of the graduate special education program and two undergraduate special education programs. “Teaching in higher education has been a fantastic experience and is different than a K-12 environment,” Hinds explained. “It has been a way for me to blossom and do things that I have wanted to do for years, like study test anxiety and the ability to publish and work with other exceptional thinkers in the field of education.”
Part of Hinds’ “blossoming” includes publishing the two books – “This is ME” and “Little Brown Puppy with Big Paws.” Her area of expertise is in test anxiety and performance for students with learning disabilities, so the children’s books, which focus on teaching children who are trying to achieve and learn with ADD and ADHD and promoting diversity and interactions with others, respectively, were created with those ideas in mind. One of Hinds own children was diagnosed with ADD, so her knowledge carries over to personal experience as well. Her hope is that the books “enlighten others on acceptance, educate about diversity, and help people build a more diversified and stronger inner character.”
Through the writing of her books and the education she received, Hinds is leading a meaningful life and productive career, clearly making a difference in the surrounding area and beyond. She even took to the road recently, surprising the preschool class at Arcadia School in Arcadia, OH by stopping by to visit and read from “The Little Brown Puppy.” Partly brought about by the fact that her nephew was a member of the class, she was able to spend time with the very sort of people that she is ultimately trying to inspire. “[Kids] can learn through the books how everyone just wants to be accepted for who they are and it is essential to find what each individual is good at to watch them shine,” Hinds said.
Photo credit: AMEDIA Visuals, LLC.