the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

In the classroom and on stage, Hinson is ready to instruct

Nikki Hinson O’Connor gives us insight to her dual teaching roles.
Photos and illustrations by Stephanie Cheng
Nikki Hinson O’Connor teaches English (top) and conducts an acting warm-up with drama students. “It’s just a lot of running around, making sure everything is where it’s supposed to be, everyone is where they’re supposed to be,” Hinson said. “It’s nonstop, I’m here from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm sometimes and sometimes I’m even here on the weekends.”

Constantly moving between her English classroom, the stagecraft room and the drama stage, Nikki Hinson O’Connor is always busy. Hinson teaches five classes along with her role as the new drama director.

As drama director, Hinson is responsible for picking out the shows that students perform, budgeting and casting for each show. In addition, she handles advertising and hiring outside coaches to help her students with other skills.

“Getting to work with the students has definitely been a highlight. I love watching them grow as performers and getting to be creative myself is also really fun,” Hinson said.

English provides the foundation for analyzing characters where students learn through indirect characterization, but drama helps bring the characters to life. Compared to English classes, drama is more focused on the portrayal of characters.

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“In acting we don’t just write about [characterization]; we become it,” Hinson said. “We do analyze scripts and characters but then we apply it.”

Hinson has a background in theater, beginning her acting career at age 12 and spending nearly 16 years on a stage acting in numerous college and local productions. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hinson taught improvisation classes at the Groundlings Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

“I was hustling,” Hinson said. “I’m also a mom and it was really hard to juggle everything.”

The time off because of the pandemic gave Hinson the opportunity to reflect. She realized that she wanted to make a positive impact on youth, seeing everything that was going on in the world at the time.

“I realized, ‘You know what, I’m not happy with this path.’ I tried to think back to when I was the most happy and it was when I was a substitute teacher in my early 20s,” Hinson said.

This experience motivated Hinson to start substitute teaching again as a long-term substitute at Diamond Bar High School. She also taught a summer at Walnut before beginning her first year in a dual role, working with both the English and Visual and Performing Arts Departments.

“I like that theater is a place where people of all different backgrounds can be represented in a story. There’s so much culture that can be shared and passed down,” Hinson said.

Currently, Hinson is still adapting to her first year as a teacher. Becoming more familiar with the school district and her students has helped make the transition smoother.

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About the Contributor
Marissa Alejo
Marissa Alejo, Copy and coverage editor-in-chief
Hi my name is Marissa Alejo, I'm a senior and I'm the Copy and Coverage editor-in-chief for The Hoofprint. Outside of The Hoofprint I am on the girls soccer team and also play club soccer. In my free time I love watching sports and reading.
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