Position: Second Grade ELA/Social Studies Teacher
School: H.G. Temple Elementary School
School District: Diboll ISD
City, State: Diboll, TX
Music that Describes Gina
Gina Hodges was nominated by her daughter, Lexi Hodges.
Mrs. Hodges is no ordinary teacher. She’s truly outstanding, amazing,and inspiring, and she’s got the stats to back it up. She has achieved the high honor of being nominated for (and winning) H.G Temple Elementary’s Campus Teacher of the Year (2x), Diboll Independent School District’s District Teacher of the Year (2x), Texas Tribute Teacher of the Month, Education Matters Sleep First Teacher Award, KICKS 105 Whataburger Teacher Grant Winner, and has been a team leader for second and third grades for five years.
"You win these awards by being someone truly inspirational and special. You have to have been nominated by students, parents, peers, and others to even be considered to be nominated," said Lexi. "Since Mrs.Hodges has won these awards, then she must have inspired many people."
Mrs. Hodges is not only inspiring because of her awards, but she’s also inspiring because of the way she reaches her students. She is really great at differentiated instruction because she includes creative techniques in her lessons, from singing and dancing the content, to coming up with mnemonics, to doing hands-on STEM time. She also makes sure each student feels loved, important, and welcome in her classroom. Mrs. Hodges believes that each student can reach their full potential with a little love and guidance.
Mrs. Hodges also inspires her students to be good people, not only in the classroom, but in their community, as well. She takes the students to local nursing homes to perform Christmas carols for the residents to spread holiday cheer. Each year, Mrs. Hodges and her students go to the KICKS 105 radio station to record Christmas carols and other holiday jingles that will be aired on the radio station for all of Angelina County to hear. While they’re at the nursing home, they make crafts with the residents to keep as Christmas gifts, and they also go and decorate each resident’s door to bring them some Christmas joy. She believes that this teaches students to think and care about someone other than themselves. Seeing the positive interactions between the residents and students is something that inspires her to want to keep the program going with future groups of students, and to come to the nursing home during different times of the year, not just Christmas.
Keeping with the theme of community involvement, Mrs. Hodges also takes her students to the local animal shelter where the students get to tour the shelter, visit with the animals, give their handmade toys to the shelter (and some of the pets), and occasionally get to name a pet. Because her students are young, they’re able to connect with the animals. With both of the activities mentioned above, the students get instant gratification, and get to experience in real time how the smallest of good deeds can make the biggest impact in a person or animal’s life.
This year, she has started the Kind Kids Club. The students who join are completing random acts of kindness throughout the year. This year, the students are collecting donations alongside Mrs. Hodges for the teachers, students, and schools that have been affected by the California wildfires. Mrs. Hodges believes that all students are deserving of a good and fair education, and the California wildfires destroyed not only most of the homes in that area of California, but many of the schools, as well. This means that most students would temporarily lose the opportunity to continue to grow academically. The school supplies donated could be the start of students' continuing educational growth. They will also help the students return to normalcy in their lives.
The students in the Kind Kids Club also want to make sure that their local community is supported, too. This includes making and hand-delivering hot chocolate for every single teacher from kindergarten to second grade. The students said wanted to thank the teachers for all their hard work, and wanted them to know that they are a loved and valued part of the community. Mrs. Hodges also wants to start a Leadership Council that would be an extension of the Kind Kids Club and encompass the entire second grade.
"Mrs. Hodges is inspiring because she is my mom, of course. She inspires me to be the best version of myself that I can be," said Lexi. "She has always supported me in everything I do, from coming to many recitals and plays, to always being proud of all my academic accomplishments, to supporting my decision to get my degree in education to become a teacher like her. Growing up with your mom being a teacher means you spend a lot of time in classrooms, and I’ve gotten to watch my mom teach a lot. From a young age, I can remember watching my mom teach, and thinking 'wow, I want to be just like her. I want to be a teacher, too.' She really set the inspiration for wanting to be a teacher from a very young age."
"To be honest, I’m nervous about becoming a teacher. But I know that if I am ever struggling, I can always turn to my mom, both as a mother and fellow teacher," said Lexi. "Because of her, I am inspired to become the best teacher that I can be, which will probably be only half the teacher she is, because she’s just that amazing."