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Virginia Journal of Education

Ten Minutes with…Tracy Hinty

:  Coordinator for Federal Programs

Local Assn.:  Rockbridge-Lexington Education Association 
Years worked in education:  23

What is a typical school day like for you?
Every day is a new adventure! My days are never the same in this new position. My years in the classroom taught me flexibility, and I am definitely using those skills now. A typical day might start in the office long enough to answer emails or voicemails before dashing out to visit preschool or Title I classrooms. The Virginia Department of Education tends to schedule late-morning webinars regarding school improvement or Title I, so I’m often headed back to the office to participate in those sessions.

In the afternoon, I might have a community partner meeting with Head Start, our local Community Service Board or United Way. Late afternoons are spent trouble-shooting issues that arise in our programs, or if I am lucky enough to make it back to the office, I catch up on collecting documentation for our federal monitoring process.

Other days might be spent traveling to regional meetings with other federal program coordinators, parent involvement trainings or facilitating professional development sessions.

What do you like about your job?
I love the interaction with community partners, parents and colleagues. I often serve as a liaison between local groups to make a difference for our students and employees.

I love being able to provide support for my preschool and Title I teachers and school improvement teams. I can’t always solve their immediate problems, but I have the ability to dig a bit deeper into ways to assist them.

What is hard about your job?
My job now requires me to stretch beyond my comfort zone in dealing with grants, government and finances. I work with numbers, data and programs, and adults rather than with students. I have to admit that interactions with adults and the government are much more challenging than teaching a classroom of five-year-olds! I do miss those smiling, eager-to-learn faces.

What are some of the most fun and unusual things that have happened on the job?
After teaching kindergarten for 17 years, I have many humorous stories. Five-year-olds are so much fun! I do miss that, but the great part of this position is that I can always pop in a class and get my kid fix. I’ve always heard that if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life, and I truly believe that. 

The most unusual story I have in my current position is that I was held captive by a snake that tried to enter my office last year. The snake was not a classroom pet, but an intruder from the great outdoors. We were in the westernmost part of rural Rockbridge County and, if doors were left open from time to time, all sorts of creatures could drop in for a visit. Occasionally we’d be greeted by escaped cows in our parking lot.

A colleague ran for help by interrupting an administrative meeting, but there was a bit of misunderstanding. No one seemed concerned there was a snake was in my office. Finally, they all realized that I was trapped with the snake and had no means of escape other than the window. By the time help came, I was perched on top of my desk. The maintenance and facilities team still enjoy telling that story at my expense.

Our central office has recently moved to a more modern facility, although still rural.  When I packed boxes for the move to the new location, I was extra cautious to look for critters that were interested in relocating as well.

How has being an Association member been helpful to you?
Membership has provided me with incredible professional development, leadership skills and connections with other members, in Virginia and nationwide. Over my 23 years, I have served as building representative, PAC chair, local Vice President and President, district Vice President and President, and as a member of the VEA Board of Directors. With each position in the Association, I gained new insights and skills that helped me grow professionally.
Several years ago, I was nominated to participate in a NEA Early Childhood Leadership Cohort consisting of myself and four Association members, one each from Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan. We travel across the country to share NEA Early Childhood resources and professional development, and I’m very proud to be VEA’s ambassador on this cohort.




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