Master of Arts in Teaching, 2004
School of Education
November 1, 2008
High School Teacher Geoffrey Pinney Believes Educating is “In the Blood”
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years already!” exclaimed Geoff Pinney at the recent department barbeque, reflecting on his long journey in education. Originally from Connecticut, Geoff is the only child of two retired teachers. Trying to be rebellious, he attempted to steer far away from the profession, but was ultimately “called” into service and has never looked back.
Geoff graduated from Wittenberg University in Ohio with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in journalism. He originally planned on pursuing a law degree but got sidetracked along the way. Geoff moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in the early 1990s and did some free-lance reporting and public relations work.
After a brief stint in the business world, he took a part-time job as an English Instructor at Berlitz Language Schools. Here he discovered his passion for teaching and quickly became the head English teacher as well as the Method Director, training and supervising all of the Berlitz teachers. This was an incredibly valuable experience not only for shaping his teaching skills but for allowing him the chance to learn about and appreciate many different cultures.
When Geoff and his then fiancé Katie, who is currently a UCI multiple-subject credential student, moved to Southern California in 1999, he immediately took the CBEST in order to continue the pursuit of a teaching career. He also began working as an ESL instructor at Irvine Adult School, where he continues to work part-time during summers. Geoff joined the UCI Intern Program in the spring of 2002, during its second year of existence. On a fluke, instead of getting placed in the district where he did his student teaching, Geoff happened to have a credentialing class with a veteran teacher who mentioned that there was an opening for an English teacher at her school.
Geoff interviewed with Santa Ana High School and was hired in the fall of 2002. He taught several UCI Pathways classes that year, so he was immediately exposed to the teaching methods of Carol Booth Olson, whom he credits as one of his major influences as an English teacher. Geoff still attends UCI Writing Program-sponsored events each year to learn new teaching methods and “relight the flame.”
After only one year of teaching, Geoff was asked to take over as advisor for Santa Ana’s student newspaper. He gladly accepted the opportunity because he thought it would be a great way to utilize his experience as a journalist. He was accepted that summer to the American Society of Newspaper Editors Scholastic Journalism Institute in South Carolina. However, Geoff had been accepted to UCI’s MAT program which met during two of those weeks. “That was a hard summer,” Geoff recalls as he remembers trying to work on group projects over the Internet thousands of miles away. With the help of very accommodating professors and fellow classmates, he made it through. He received his MAT in the fall of 2004, the same year he received tenure at Santa Ana High School. Later that summer, Geoff made a job change and moved to Tustin High School where he is now in his fourth year.
Geoff currently teaches freshman English at Tustin High School. His wife Katie is a multiple-subject credential student at UCI. Geoff says, “I am very excited that Katie is at UCI. When she mentions her classes and professors, it brings back memories of my time as an Anteater. I was so glad to see some familiar faces at the barbecue, especially Karol Gottfredson, because Karol and I shared a short lifetime in my three years at UCI.”
Geoff is grateful for his time at UCI, and who knows, maybe he will be back to continue the journey!