Educator Honors His Hispanic Heritage
Scholastic Kid Reporter talks to Dallas School Superintendent Michael Hinojosa
|Scholastic Student Reporter Valirie Morgan interviews Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Superintendent of Schools for the Dallas Independent School District in Dallas, Texas. (Photo: Courtesy Valirie Morgan)|
By Valirie Morgan
Scholastic Kids Press Corps
Recently, I was granted an interview with Dallas Independent School District (DISD) Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. Dallas ISD is the third largest school district in the nation. Hinojosa was previously the superintendent of Spring ISD, a much smaller district near Houston, Texas. His student body went from 28,000 to about 158,000 when he switched districts. Hinojosa was born in Mexico. He came to the U.S. as a child. He talked to me about leadership, his cultural background, and the challenges of his new job.
Hinojosa says a good leader is someone who can guide and manage people.
"You have to know how people work and think," he said. "It's so important to understand people, from adults and children to all ages."
He says leadership is all about working with people, and that's what he does.
Kids who want to become more involved in their communities should "hurry up and start!" he said. "This generation is more community-service-oriented than the last generation."
He believes in establishing a balance between working hard in school and for your community. There are so many little things you can do, he says.
When asked about his Hispanic background, Hinojosa had a lot to say. He legally moved to the U.S. when he was a child. His parents made the move so their children could get a better education. His parents both left their families to come to the U.S., so Hinojosa never got to know his extended family. Hinojosa spoke of the importance of family in Hispanic culture. He said he knew it was a big sacrifice for his parents to leave their families behind.
Kids who want to learn more about their cultural backgrounds should "study, read, talk, and ask questions," Hinojosa said. But that's not all.
"There are many different areas of culture and reading and studying isn't enough," he said. He suggests that kids talk to their parents, grandparents, and other relatives. "Culture isn't all about race. It's also about what you were taught and your family values," he said.
Hinojosa was hired to lead the Dallas school district as superintendent in March 2005. Although he grew up in Dallas and later taught there, his career has taken him to many different Texas communities. He has worked in Grand Prairie, Austin, and Houston.
In an interview, district spokesman Sandra Guerrero praised the board's choice in superintendents. "I think it has been a good thing that the District and Board of Trustees hired Hinojosa because he knows the District from a teaching perspective and the background of a student's perspective," she said. "I believe he can make DISD better; he can improve it."
How did Hinojosa chose education as his career? He says he didn't decide, it just sort of happened. In high school one day, a teacher told him that he would make a great teacher. Based on that remark, he applied for a scholarship from the Future Teachers of America. It was a small scholarship, only about $500, which he could use to pay for books. He says it "bought me a dream." After that, he never even thought about doing anything else.
Hinojosa loves his job because even though it is hard, he believes he can make a positive difference in people's lives. He believes improving students' academic performance is a very important part of his job.
"Every job I've had is the best job I've ever had," he said.
It is that positive outlook that has brought him success. Hinojosa is a strong example of how education, cultural perspective, and hard work are all important to a person's growth and achievement.
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