By Ava West
Oak Hall’s new Upper School biology and bio med teacher, Gianna Hooper, has gone from playing volleyball in high school and college to coaching the OHS junior varsity team. Hooper grew up in Chipley, Fla. which is very close to the Alabama state border. During high school, she played volleyball and graduated in 2017 among just 136 people. After graduating, she moved to Bay Minette, Ala. to attend school at Coastal Alabama Community College where she received her AA degree and continued playing volleyball. To further her knowledge of science, she went to Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in secondary science education with a specification in biology.
When Hooper’s husband, Parker, got accepted recently into the University of Florida’s Dentistry School, she decided to apply to teach locally. Oak Hall happened to be trying to expand its integrated sciences program. When she applied, she included her coaching resume for volleyball. The first-year teacher decided working at Oak Hall was a great fit, especially given its historically successful volleyball programs. “I got to start coaching volleyball before I started teaching [this school year], so I got introduced to the culture of Oak Hall a lot sooner,” she said. “I wasn’t shocked by the level of intelligence and hard work that Oak Hall students have to offer,” she continued. Since Hooper loved her high school experience, she is thrilled to be able to teach science and coach volleyball, two of her passions in life.
The junior varsity volleyball team knows Coach Hooper as the “competitive, knows how to get things done [type of coach],” said freshman volleyballer Elise Burris. While some Oak Hall students only see the rigorous science teacher side, what most students don’t know is that she is a huge Marvel and Harry Potter fan and jams out to country music. “I love Brooks and Dunn… [I’m the] biggest Brooks and Dunn fan,” she said excitedly. So next time you see her, maybe bring up some country music or questions about music as Hooper is a self-acclaimed expert at musical trivia.
Hooper loves teaching at Oak Hall so far. “It has been a challenge to make class more interesting for upper class students,” admitted Hooper. She likes to make classes more intriguing by making it very hands-on with plenty of labs. Hooper’s classes consist of reading through the biology textbook and having projects that show the creative side of her students. She tries to veer away from basic note taking in class and instead uses lesson outlines and the textbooks vocabulary words.
Oak Hall is very lucky to have such an innovative new teacher! Good luck to Ms. Hooper on her first year!