Growing up in the Poquoson School District near Virginia Beach, Grade 4 Co-Teacher Hank Mast had the good fortune to have several outstanding teachers. The experience, he says, “convinced me that education was the path for me.” Mr. Mast attended Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, earning a Bachelors degree with a concentration in secondary education and a focus on history and social science. His studies included participating in a cross cultural program that involved his spending time in China, and, after graduation and a year in the business world, Mr. Mast became a member of the Extended Day staff at Green Hedges in 2011.
While serving in Extended Day, Mr. Mast had the opportunity to substitute teach in Grade 3. That experience was so positive that thereafter he began volunteering in Grade 3 in the mornings, before his work shift began at noon. After he had worked for three years at Green Hedges, a friend working in Arizona with the Native American Hopi Tribe invited Mr. Mast to become a teacher there. He accepted the invitation and taught Grade 3 at the Hopi Mission School, where resources were limited but where being part of a closely knit team of teachers helped him meet the challenges he faced. While in Arizona, Mr. Mast established a pen pal program between his Hopi class and the one at Green Hedges. He also became a half-marathoner as a way of creating more connection with the families of his students, whose culture includes long distance running. Now back on campus, Mr. Mast enjoys working with students who are learning to become more comfortable with taking risks in order to learn and grow, a lesson his own life trajectory embodies.