Ms. HygateMeet Ms. Hygate

Terri Hygate believes teaching is a vocation, a calling. And she’s been called to it twice. The first time was in New Zealand where she taught kindergarten, first, and second grade. Then she became a children’s librarian and spent ten years developing collections and programs to promote and advance literacy. Following a move to Australia, Terri studied law while working for a government agency that regulated children’s television programming. “I had every kid’s dream job: I was paid to watch children’s television!” Terri ensured government requirements for quality children’s programming were met. She says Australia and Canada produce the very best children’s programming, largely due to the government requirements on quality.

Terri came with her husband to the United States as a “trailing spouse” and could not accept work right away. She became a volunteer with Music For Minors, a non-profit that provides music education for public schools. Being in the classrooms again, Terri felt the calling to teach for the 2nd time. She worked to get her New Zealand teaching credential recognized, and started teaching in Los Gatos. Realizing she wanted to teach with more parental involvement, she began looking and found Stevenson PACT. This is her sixth year with Stevenson PACT.

While being interviewed for this article, Terri paused to say hello to children walking by. She introduced me to one, saying “Here’s one of mine from three years ago. Isn’t it amazing how fast they grow?” She has two daughters, one in ninth grade and one graduating high school this year. “Amazing!” Yes it is.

Social Studies Has to Be Hands On

Field trips, according to Terri Hygate, are vital to teaching social studies. “For every student, seeing a tule reed hut makes much more sense than reading about one. And even more so for our English language learners,” explains Terri. “You have to go out to teach social studies.” On a recent trip to the Campbell Historical Museum, the class bartered for goods in a general store, prepared and cleaned up afternoon tea, and washed a piece of clothing in a washboard tub and hung it on a line to dry. “That’s how to learn about life 100 years ago.”

Terri’s class is studying the Ohlone peoples. They visited Coyote Hills in Fremont, one of the few Ohlone sites left that hasn’t been built upon. The students examined a large scale model of an Ohlone village. Afterwards, they shared a snack like the Ohlones would have eaten: jerky, pine nuts, walnuts, and dried fruit.

Terri genuinely enjoys her class and being a teacher. Ask her to sum up her class and she says three words, “Bright, pleasant and friendly. They’re a great bunch of kids!”