Teacher Feature: Ms. Hackshaw

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Teacher Feature: Ms. Hackshaw

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Ms. Carinne Hackshaw was born to a Trinidadian father and a Granadian mother in Brooklyn, New York in the 1970s. She lived in a mostly Caribbean immigrant community, and went to St. Jude Catholic School in Canarsie from Kindergarten until the sixth grade. When she was eleven years old, she moved from Brooklyn to Long Island. This also meant she would have to attend a public school for the first time. She describes this change as a “total culture shock.” She attended Freeport High School from 1988 to 1992, where she balanced being a good student with being part of the school’s music program. 

After graduating, Ms. Hackshaw attended Nassau Community College, majoring in Liberal Arts. Afterwards, she obtained her Bachelors in English from the University of Rochester, and minored in Political Science. She then attended  New York University where she pursued a degree in English Education. During her time at New York University, Ms. Hackshaw attended a summer program at Oxford University as part of her studies and worked as a writing instructor for the Higher Education Opportunity Program. Moreover, she also worked for the Hagop Kevorkian Center of Middle East Studies at NYU which eventually led to her becoming a Fellow of Teaching English as a Foreign Language at the American University of Cairo. 

Ms. Hackshaw stayed in Cairo for two years, teaching English to freshmen in Egypt and later working for the Pakistan International School in Zamalek, Cairo. While working there, she taught kids from all over the world. “It is funny,” she says, “Nobody thought I was American while I lived in Egypt. Some people simply assumed I was from Southern Egypt or Northern Sudan.” 

After returning from Egypt, Ms. Hackshaw taught as a permanent substitute teacher in  her hometown high school, Freeport High School, but decided to leave after just two months because there was little support for new teachers. Even though it was her alma mater, the school community had changed drastically from her time there as a student. Three months later, Ms. Hackshaw left a random phone  message at a high school in Queens, New York. Twenty minutes later she was asked to come in for an interview and was offered a teaching position at Richmond Hill High School. “It was sheer serendipity. Funny how a twenty minute phone call turned into fifteen years.” During Ms. Hackshaw’s time at Richmond High School, she worked with students from all over the world and across departments. “When you teach in New York City, you teach everything.”

One of her favorite memories from Richmond Hill was traveling  every April, to new and exciting places around the globe like Greece, France, and Alaska, just to name a few. 

After departing from Richmond Hill in 2015, Ms. Hackshaw moved to Maryland, where her sister lives, and taught middle schoolers for three years. Ms. Hackshaw again decided to leave a random message on a school phone and serendipity worked its magic again. She decided to leave Maryland and give it a try in Virginia at West Potomac High School. “This was a complete surprise and totally unexpected but I do not regret my decision. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” When asked what her favorite part about teaching at West Potomac is, she said it was the connection she feels with her students here, who remind her of the students she taught in New York.