Shortly after a gun-wielding student shot and killed Sparks Middle School teacher Michael Landsberry for protecting students, the state superintendent had to pick the Nevada Teacher of the Year.
For that reason, it should come as little surprise that the 2014 winner shares Landsberry’s quality for being not only a successful teacher but a selfless citizen, Nevada Superintendent of Public Schools Dale Erquiaga said Wednesday before announcing the winner at the Las Vegas Northwest Career and Technical Academy.
The winner, Jeffrey Hinton, has taught history at the school, near U.S. Highway 95 and Tropical Parkway, since 2008 and has made much progress there, said Principal Kimberly Bauman. About 60 percent of his students passed advanced-placement tests in 2010. The pass rate has increased to 87 percent this year, she said.
But that alone is not what made Hinton stand out among the other finalists presented to Erquiaga by a committee.
“He’s a great citizen,” Erquiaga said. “That leapt off the page.”
That was apparent after school Wednesday as Hinton’s guitar club held a benefit concert for homeless students. The Clark County School District has identified 6,092 students as homeless.
This year’s award was named after the Sparks teacher slain in October — the 2014 Michael Landsberry Teacher of the Year. And Landsberry’s name will stay attached as long as Erquiaga is at the helm of the Nevada Department of Education, he said.
Hinton noted the honor of being named the first Michael Landsberry Teacher of the Year. Like Landsberry, Hinton was a U.S. Marine, he said.
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem,” said Hinton, quoting President Ronald Reagan, but adding something of his own. “In my mind, neither do teachers.”
Hinton, a husband and father of three girls, graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in education and now serves on the board of directors for the Southern Nevada Council of Social Studies and the Nevada Council for History Education.
There’s more. He teaches a social studies methods course at Nevada State College, and he has received five other Teacher of the Year awards from organizations such as the Nevada Women’s History Project and Southern Nevada Council of Social Studies.
“Here’s to the man who not only taught me history but taught me to be the best man I can be,” said Northwest senior Josue Mendoza-Garcia, who is president of the school’s chapter for Rho Kappa: The National Social Studies Honor Society. Hinton started the local chapter.
Hinton will attend a ceremony at the White House to be honored with all the state teachers of the year, and where a national winner will be named. Whatever happens there, Hinton should be proud — and amazed, Erquiaga said.
“The White House will be — for a history geek — a pretty awesome thing,” he said.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@review journal.com or 702-383-0279.