By Paige Asberry
Being nominated Educator of the Year is a big honor at Hutchinson Community College. Winning it is an even bigger honor.
Jeanna Esparza, Cosmetology trainer, says that “It was an honor … I still can’t wrap my brain around it.”
Esparza got her start in Cosmetology right out of high school, when she was offered a scholarship to Sidney’s Hairdressing College in Hutchinson. She said that she was unsure of what she wanted to do, and she decided to give cosmetology a shot.
“And I was hooked. I loved it, and I still love it,” Esparza said.
In 1998, she was offered a job as an instructor with a hair color manufacturer to teach salons about their different products, and fell in love with teaching.
“I tell the girls ‘never say never’, and when I graduated from beauty school, I said I would never go back, and I ended up going back to the same place that I graduated from and teaching,” Esparza said.
When HutchCC acquired Sidney’s six years ago, Esparza stayed on as an instructor. She said that with a program like cosmetology, she and her students spend so much time together that “we become like a family.”
Esparza continued by saying that “(Students) have support here, no matter what.”
Her team and her students are two of her favorite parts of teaching at the college, and she says that she feels like she has a chance to “give back what the industry has given to me, and I can give it to them.”
Esparza said that she has learned so much from the team that she’s worked with, and by constantly seeking to educate herself.
“If I’m not growing, I can’t help them grow,” Esparza said.
She sees a chance to learn and grow in any and every situation, and through learning and growing herself, can more effectively help her students learn.
“We can learn from them as much as they learn from us,” Esparza said. “I think it takes a lot of courage to walk into a building and be a student.”
Teaching the beginners has a certain appeal to her, because it reminds her where she came from, and gives her the chance to see her students go from step one to doing “all of these cool things.”
Esparza has such a genuine love for teaching and it’s very clear to her students as well.
Dante Gonzalez, a first-year student, is already a fan of Esparza’s.
“I love her teaching style … it makes you have to use your brain, and prepares you for the state board,” Gonzalez said.
He said that Esparza’s very succinct and has a very clear style of teaching, that “when she says it the first time, I get it.”
“This is my addiction,” Esparza said. “I’m very blessed to be here and to have even been nominated for Educator of the Year.”