Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Honesty is Stacey Hinchman's policy at McGavock High

Top teacher tells students about her life and times By Andy Humbles • THE TENNESSEAN • June 1, 2009 Knowing literature and grammar and vivaciously reading current books and the classics would fit many an English teacher's profile. McGavock's Stacey Hinchman is open with students about a lot more than that. They know Hinchman loves Jeopardy to the point she tapes it, is fascinated with trivia and was a lousy math student way back when. They know Hinchman chose not to attend McGavock as a senior when her school, the old DuPont High, closed in 1986. So how ironic is it that the school Hinchman has served for 17 years now has been named Metro's High School 2010 Teacher of the Year? "I'm very honest with them about myself, and what I was like as a student,'' Hinchman said. "I want (the classroom) to be a comfortable place. I just try and make it OK for them to be learners.'' Down to earth and high energy are attributes that graduating senior Abbie Alexander and McGavock Principal Karl Lang independently gave about Hinchman. "One, she is a phenomenal AP English teacher, but she also does a great job in helping us through our senior year in general,'' Abbie said. "She's supportive in college searching and dealing with emotions. I've gone in there after school some days, and she'll always help you with, whatever. Personal issues, administrative policies.…'' Hinchman taught AP English Literature and Shakespeare Studies. She has been an English teacher since the fall of 1992 after graduating from Belmont University, when Hinchman started teaching freshmen. Since then she has moved through the ranks. Her enthusiasm for teaching helped her husband, Brian Hinchman. to also make a transition in careers to the profession. Brian also teaches at McGavock. "She loves McGavock High and is willing to assist in any area we ask,'' said Lang, who began serving as the school's principal in late January. "She asks if there are things she can help with. She's always asking. I've never seen her not energized about teaching and being on campus. I haven't seen that.'' McGavock's size, usually approaching 3,000 students, "intimidated'' a more introverted Hinchman as a high school senior over 20 years ago. When DuPont closed as a high school, McGavock became her zoned school. Hinchman finished at Donelson Christian Academy, which she still thinks was the best decision for her. But the experience helps her realize there are students at McGavock also intimidated by the size of the school. "A lot of teachers don't think it's cool to see them as human,'' Hinchman said. "I let them know I was scared, especially with freshmen , I would share that. "I think grownups forget sometimes they are just kids. A lot of them don't have anyone else to ask questions. Sometimes it's just what kind of shoes to wear to graduation. "I remember what it was like to sit in classrooms and be bored. I was always a kid that wanted to learn. I figure if I'm in this profession I should be as upbeat as I can, because they'll get bored quick.''

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