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ASU researchers include Mesquite High teacher in new project

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Anne Hoodin poses in her classroom in front of a white board.A long-time Gilbert Public Schools educator is being recognized by Arizona State University for her teaching. Anne Hoodin, the physics teacher at Mesquite High School, was recently chosen to be part of a study conducted by the ASU Helios Decision Center for Educational Excellence. Researchers identified Mesquite High alumni as top-performing students in college-level physics courses. They reached out to Hoodin to learn more about her background, teaching strategies and other factors that have led to her students’ achievements. The report will be included in the ‘Success Interview Project.’

Hoodin began her career with Gilbert Public Schools in 1993 at Gilbert High School. She spent 22 years teaching at the flagship school before transferring to Mesquite High eight years ago. She says the best part of her job is connecting with students. 

“I try to have more interactive lab work and concentrate on having more experiences in class instead of just worksheets and practice,” she said.

Teaching is actually Hoodin’s second career. When she graduated from college, she got hired to work for Procter & Gamble at their facility in Chicago. She was a vital member of the company’s team focused on Kosher chemicals and products, helping to develop, manufacture, market and sell them to the masses.

“It’s a very unusual job. I was the first woman in the country to ever do that job,” she said.

Hoodin worked with Procter & Gamble for more than six years before moving to Arizona and starting a family. After several years at home, Hoodin’s husband suggested that she go into teaching. She decided to pursue her certification in chemistry and physics. Her first teaching job was working at Gilbert High.

“I’ve been in it ever since. I’ve never left,” she said.

Hoodin is currently teaching physics to 140 Mesquite High students across six classes. All students are taught the same topics, but the level of depth varies for on-level and Advanced Placement classes. Topics include schematics, dynamics, soundwaves and more.

“It’s the basics most students would encounter when they take a first semester at ASU. I try to model that,” Hoodin said.

Each of her students is given a study packet filled with graphics, problems, information and a place to take thorough notes. They spend the school year working through it, including additional key details, tips and physics strategies. It is something that Hoodin has been doing in her classes since 1993. 

“I’ve had students who’ve told me that they took the packet to college and it helped them there,” she said. 

Physics students at Mesquite High regularly do quizzes and tests. Hoodin believes this strategy is a critical way for them to gauge their understanding of physics concepts. She also spends a considerable amount of time reviewing students’ results to see where she can improve on her testing and teaching approach.

“Tests are a very time-consuming event for the teacher, but if they are done well, then I think that students really start to learn,” Hoodin said.

Anne Hoodin assists a male student with a lab assignment as two students sit in the background.For labs, students often work in groups, so they can have peer-to-peer support while learning new skills and vocabulary. Those students who demonstrate a real grasp of the lessons also get the opportunity to showcase their work to their classmates. The labs sometimes involve equipment or other useful objects such as a copypaper box.

“The equipment is important, but you can be creative. You can put labs together without buying expensive items. It is possible. It takes time, effort and preparation hours,” she said.  

The investment does pay off when teachers like Hoodin are able to witness their students’ success in the classroom.

“It makes me emotional, because they can do it,” she said, “They just don’t always have the confidence, because they don’t know it is achievable.”

To learn more about Mesquite High School, schedule a school tour or enroll today!

Written by Kailey Latham, Photos by Jonason Pauley