Third generation HHS grad cultivates learning at alma mater
Rod Naquin doesn’t see teaching as an occupation, but as a vocation and investment in a community he cares so deeply about.
He grew up in Des Allemands and he’s spent his life there and in Bayou Gauche. As strong as his roots are there, that goes just as much so for Hahnville High School, where he became a third generation graduate of the school in 2001.
Today, at age 34, he teaches there, and is doing all he can to make it the best environment possible both today and down the line.
Naquin chairs the school’s Climate and Culture Committee, which focuses on ways to make HHS a friendlier, nourishing and more welcoming school for both students and faculty alike.
“Learning is a passion for me,” said Naquin, who teaches English at Hahnville. “The ability to empower people to learn not just a subject, but values, how to build relationships and cultures … that’s what I love more than anything.”
One point of emphasis for Naquin and his committee is providing support for teachers in a variety of ways, one of those coaching on ways to better build relationships with students.
“We started (coaching for professional development) in August and have continued it throughout the year. We’ve introduced a protocol where teachers recall situations that have maybe been a little more challenging and trying to help them find ways to build relationships with their students to best work with them (in those situations).”
Another way to forward development has been to reward students who exceed expectations. A competitive element has been added where whichever class, freshmen through senior, has the most students beating expectations are recognized each quarter and rewarded in kind—the junior class earned the first quarter honor and will receive a dress down day Oct. 30.
“We want to reinforce the idea of our Tiger P.R.I.D.E. initiative wherever we can,” he said, noting the acronym that stands for perseverance, respect, integrity, discipline and excellence. “Each class takes a lot of pride as being the one that’s beating expectations.”
Naquin’s grandmother, Virgie, was a member of one of the earliest Hahnville graduating classes in 1942. She stands as a major inspiration to Naquin, as she’s earned recognition for her activities and accomplishments.
“Every day I come in here, I think about my grandma,” he said. “What she has continued to do in the community, reasons why people do editorials about her, her involvement all around the parish … she’s one of the major driving forces for the work I do here. Whether it’s supporting kids, teachers, faculty members, staff or the community at large, it’s an amazing motivating factor.”
Another is the response of the school’s former students who have been positively affected by the dedication of Naquin and the school’s other teachers.
“It’s the students who come up to you three or four years later, who have gone on to secondary education and tell you how they’ve been affected by this teacher or that teacher,” Naquin said. “Writing recommendations for kids, celebrating what they’ve accomplished … it’s what it’s all about for me, both personally and professionally.”