From Compton to Santa Barbara, Devona Hawkins is the first full-time teacher to join City College’s early childhood education department in several years.
Piano and saxophone melodies resonate the classroom, welcoming her students back from the long Labor Day weekend. The clock strikes 12:45 p.m. and Hawkins begins instructing her Early Childhood Education 102 class, “Child, Family and Community,” by drawing its attention to the board, which reads “Culture and Diversity.”
“I am not your traditional teacher,” said Hawkins.
Her students, who she calls “friends,” respond to her lectures with personal experiences. With each hand raise, Hawkins responds with bright eyes and attentiveness.
Student Austin Wilson admires Hawkins teaching style.
“I want to be an elementary teacher,” she said.
Ironically, Hawkins never used to think she herself would be a teacher.
“It’s different when it’s on the other side. I get to reinvent things compared to when I was in school,” she said.
She began her five-year journey at UC Santa Barbara, where she earned her master’s degree in early childhood education.
After graduating, Hawkins landed her first job at a preschool, and later found her preference of teaching at two-year colleges.
Before City College, she instructed at community colleges in Westwood, West Los Angeles and San Antonio.
She aims to be an approachable and transparent teacher while learning a thing or two from her students, which is why she says her biggest pet peeve is when opinionated students are the quietest.
As a part of her early childhood education courses, she encourages students to reflect on how society influences them as individuals.
“Without appropriate guidance the delivery wouldn’t be there. It all begins with teacher education,” she said.
Dr. Kelly Lake, an early childhood education professor, endorses Hawkins’ teaching style.
“She is perky, energetic, funny, and serious about teaching,” said Lake.
Hawkins says she is honored to be at City College and describes her transition from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara as a positive culture shock experience.
Hawkins reflects on the start to her new environment in Santa Barbara.
“I am just so happy,” she says.