For National Principals Month, we are highlighting school leaders who have made valuable contributions to their schools and communities. A few of the people they’ve impacted the most tell their inspiring stories. This week, instructional coach Magdalena Mata shares about her principal, Dr. Beto Hinojosa.
For many teachers across the country, the past two and a half years have been the toughest in our careers. One of the things that we’ve likely been missing is joy for the job.
This focus on bringing back the joy we all had when we went into this profession is so important as we continue to tackle pandemic-related challenges in our schools. And it’s one of the reasons why I am so thankful for the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Beto Hinojosa.
I spent one year with Dr. Hinojosa at Capt. Mark T. Voss Middle School in Boerne, TX, where he was the principal, and I was the seventh-grade history teacher. This school year, we both work at Boerne-Samuel V. Champion High School, where I am in a new role as a secondary instructional coach, and he is the new principal.
In my 15 years of teaching, I’ve worked with a lot of administrators. He’s the first principal who focused on cultivating joy for teachers and is an advocate for telling human stories. When other district staff, teachers, or even parents know that I work with him, they say things like, “He’s amazing, he’s so kind, he’s so respectful.” I’ve heard that from multiple people.
From my own experience, he very much sees the leadership potential in teachers, and he promotes that leadership within the school. It’s not a top-down experience where teachers are focused on meeting certain requirements of administrators. Rather, he understands that we are the leaders in our classrooms, we know our kids best, and we are capable of leading from the classroom.
Working with Dr. Hinojosa is probably the first time where my passion, my leadership, and what I bring as an expert to the field of education were not seen as intimidating or threatening. In fact, he has encouraged me—saying that I have the capacity to make a long-term impact in this district, especially walking into this new position at the high school, which is a very new and welcome experience for me.
Our professional relationship has been built on a common understanding that what is best for teachers is what is best for students—this is a sense of equality. We both see each other as professionals in our own right. When we talk, we usually quickly discuss what needs to get done, and then we do it. I really appreciate that.
Dr. Hinojosa loves to bring staff together and encourage a sense of camaraderie so he’s always creating opportunities for staff to come together, whether it’s bowling, going out to dinner, or bringing in food for the teachers to share, and all the time encouraging each of us to share our stories.
For me, as a Hispanic teacher, it’s nice to see a Hispanic educator in a leadership position who is thoughtful, intentional, and inclusive.
I’m enjoying my new role and my new school as I work with Dr. Hinojosa and the leadership team to bring back joy to teachers. Teachers are professionals. We don’t need to fix them or what they’re doing. Collectively, teachers need to feel loved, appreciated, supported, and seen—and that is what we are doing under the leadership of Dr. Hinojosa.