The High School of Saint Thomas More’s Krista Hinkley is Distinguished Teacher

"I love Saint Thomas More. I love being a part of Catholic education," says Krista Hinkley (center), one of two educators recognized this year by the Office of Catholic Education as Distinguished Teachers. (Provided photo)

CHAMPAIGN — Krista Hinkley never wanted a job that would just pay the bills. She was looking for something she could love and feel passionate about, something that would never leave her feeling like she was counting down the minutes to the end of the day.

Serving as an English teacher at The High School of Saint Thomas More fits the bill perfectly and she couldn’t be happier.

“This is the only school that I’ve worked at. I see myself as being here for my entire career,” said Hinkley, a 10-year veteran. “I love Saint Thomas More. I love being a part of Catholic education. . . . I feel like I’m spoiled by being able to be part of this great system.”

The faculty and students at Saint Thomas More return that affection. Hinkley was nominated to be the Office of Catholic Schools’ Distinguished Teacher and was one of two educators to be recognized this year. She will be honored along with Sally Martin of St. Mary School in Kickapoo at a Mass and luncheon planned for May 10. Also recognized will be Anita Kobilsek of Holy Cross School in Mendota, Distinguished Principal; and Father William Miller, IC, of Costa Catholic Academy in Galesburg, Distinguished Pastor.

Hinkley didn’t know she had been nominated and was surprised to hear her name when the news came over the loud speaker.

“It was nice that they announced it that way because I was with the students and we were able to kind of celebrate together,” she told The Catholic Post. “They’re one of the reasons I am a teacher, because I love my students.”

A FULL DAY

Hinkley teaches Advanced Placement English to juniors and seniors, with AP English language and AP English literature offered on alternating years. The focus is on AP English language this year.

Krista Hinkley chairs the English Department at The High School of Saint Thomas More, is assistant athletic director, and is Student Council adviser. (Provided photo)

In addition to teaching English, she chairs the English Department at Saint Thomas More. Her goal is to give students the tools and skills they need to be effective readers and effective writers in any career they choose.

“No matter what path students decide to take, reading and writing skills are paramount to their success,” she explained.

And because she works at a Catholic school, Hinkley is able to bring another component to her instruction.

“Those reading and writing skills they acquire in English classes help them to be critical thinkers and not just accept what is given to them on the surface by society,” she said. “It’s so important for us to show students they need to be critical of what they see in the world and think and react and employ those Catholic values we’ve instilled in them and be able to know what is the truth and what is trying to move them in a different direction.”

A new role for Hinkley this year is that of assistant athletic director, which allows her to put her master’s degree in educational administration from Eastern Illinois University to good use. Her responsibilities include helping to coordinate STM athletic events at home and away, communicating with the coaches, arranging transportation for all away events and field trips, and making certain the athletic program is an extension of the classroom in terms of Catholic identity.

“I really do believe a school is a system made up of many different parts, so I love being involved in two very different parts of that system,” Hinkley said. “They interact so much. I also get to see a different side of the students.”

Her work as the Student Council adviser for the last six years has given her another opportunity to interact with the students outside the classroom as they develop projects that benefit the school and the community.

Hinkley also helps to run the academic study hall program at the school, which ensures that no students are left behind academically.

MARIAN CONNECTION

While it might seem that all this involvement leaves little time for a personal life, Hinkley’s husband, Josh, teaches PE and health at Saint Thomas More and is the assistant football coach. He drives the bus, too.

Not only do they work together on a variety of activities, but they are able to model a healthy relationship based on Catholic values for the students, she said.

“We have both grown so much stronger in our faith,” she added.

Hinkley grew up in Rantoul and attended St. Malachy School, where she developed a strong connection with the Blessed Mother. The Hail Mary is her go-to prayer before class and she said the rosary gives her peace.

She remains a member of St. Malachy Parish.

Hinkley credits the people in her life for helping her to be the person and the teacher she is now, including her parents, Tim and Jodi Mayer; the teachers at St. Malachy; and Tracy Neitzel, assistant principal at Saint Thomas More.

“I probably would not have applied at Saint Thomas More if she had not suggested it. She really mentored me,” Hinkley said. “I owe a lot of my philosophy and perspective to her. She’s always pushed me to do more and to be more, and I really appreciate the help she’s given me.”

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