Sayonara Mrs. Rinkacs!

Bella White '23, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

If you haven’t heard already, Mrs. Rinkacs informally announced her retirement from teaching at Oakland Catholic to the participants of the Speech and Debate club. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Mrs. Rinkacs one last time before she sets off on new adventures. 

 

How many years did you teach in total? How many at OC?

I taught a total of ten and a half—eight at Oakland Catholic and two and a half at Franklin Regional.

 

What classes have you taught over the years, and which was your favorite?

Tenth Grade Honors World Literature is my favorite, without a doubt. I taught Tenth Graders over at Franklin Regional and I taught Tenth Graders here and that’s the age I love. I have also taught the electives of CE Argumentation, Pop Culture and Diverse Voices in Contemporary Literature, and I also taught Communications Skills when it was still here to the 9th Graders. I’ve taught everyone but Eleventh Grade. 

 

Favorite part of teaching? What will you miss the most?

Being in the classroom and interacting with the students, kind of having fun. That’s the best part, being in the classroom, instructing and interacting, and best of all, when you get to know them better as the year goes on and you get to do really cool things, like have people do expressionism dances and surrealism dances. That’s when it gets fun when the kids feel comfortable enough to go out on a limb and do crazy, cool things. 

 

What is the most important lesson you have learned from teaching?

The most important lesson I’ve learned over my teaching time is to loosen up and have fun on the job. When I first started, I was a very strict teacher, a very serious teacher, and I don’t think I had any fun at it and I don’t think the kids had any fun out of it. About the end of my first year at Oakland Catholic, I really started to loosen up and it’s only when you have fun as a teacher that the students will have fun, will engage with you, will learn. So, I think the biggest thing I learned was that it doesn’t have to be all serious, all the time, that the more fun that you have as a teacher, the more your students are going to learn.

 

What are your plans for retirement?

I’m going to read, then read some more and then when I’m done reading even more, I’m going to go on a hike. I want to do as many national parks as I can because I have an annual park pass that I want to use and utilize and see the country before I go out and see the world. 

 

What are your favorite memories from OC?

The one that stands out the most would have been last year, Halloween, when the English department dressed as Mean Girls and brought some real serious competition to the History department. That is the one visual that I think stands out the most for me. I had been trying to get the English department to do something as a group for a while and we had just the right amount of people at the right time. I also said that the bus was what was going to put us over the top, which, by the way, was drawn by Mrs. Beckler’s husband. I mean we were okay just as mean girls but it’s [Mrs. Beckler dressed as Regina George] getting run over by [Mrs. Koroly dressed as] the bus that put us over the edge. That’s visually my biggest memory. 

 

Do you have any advice for OC students?

Enjoy the journey along the way. I find that you are all too serious. That you’re all worried about getting into the best college and you’re worried about your grades and you aren’t enjoying the moment. So, my number one piece of advice would be enjoy school while you’re here. Don’t be so fixated on grades and don’t always fixate on the end goal. You have to have fun along the way or it doesn’t matter.

 

Any last words?

I’ll miss you all!

 

Bonus Questions from Students Section-

  • What is your favorite book?

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • Book recommendations?

Anything written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – I dedicated all last summer to reading everything she had ever written, including her short stories and her essays. In addition to Purple Hibiscus, I highly recommend Americanah and Half a Yellow Sun. If someone is looking for a classic to read, it should definitely be East of Eden by John Steinbeck and if anyone is interested in a good beach read, I recommend Where You’d Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.

  • What are your favorite hobbies?

Reading, watching movies, and going to the theater.

  • Favorite Broadway play or musical and why?

Ragtime! I’ve seen it nine times! It’s about bringing different cultures of people together in a way that they all have empathy for and support each other. In the end, the message is that we are more alike than we are different. The music is brilliant, the best, and it has the single best opening of any Broadway show. 

  • Favorite movie?

Shakespeare in Love 

  • Favorite Shakespeare play?

Twelfth Night

  • A Fun Fact about Yourself

Knowing how much I love Shakespeare, people would be surprised that I actually got a D for a grade in a Shakspeare course when I was in college. I didn’t let that stop me. I ended up taking a second Shakespeare course the next year and got an A.

  • If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be doing?

This is a pretty difficult question to answer considering I’ve done many different jobs in my life. I used to be a news reporter. I used to be the general manager of WYEP radio in Pittsburgh. However, if I could do it all over again, I would still be a teacher, but instead, I would want to be a college professor.

  • What convinced you to become a teacher after all of the jobs you’ve previously had?

I’m passionate about reading, I enjoy talking about literature, and it fit the lifestyle of raising two kids at home because my breaks would be the same as theirs. So, I took my love of literature, tied with the school year, and figured that would make the most sense to do while they were growing up and at home.

  • What has been your favorite job you have had?

Being a teacher is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. 

  • If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

It would probably be some dystopian book where we would come to some dire and serious circumstance that would probably take us to the end of the world. 

  • If you could sum up your time at OC in one word, what would it be?

Fun

 

Mrs. Rinkacs, I think I can speak for all of the student body when I say thank you so much for all of your time and dedication to Oakland Catholic. Also, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to let me interview you! Enjoy your well-deserved retirement! You will be missed!