Kimberly Finnegan has a superpower of kindness


Clare McCoy

Kimberly Finnegan assists a student in revising their college essay.

As a struggling and miserable college student, Kimberly Finnegan was still trying to search for what career she wanted to pursue. When she had a little downtime over one summer, she found herself as a waterfront director at a camp. By teaching kids swimming, she felt impacted by the way they worked on improving the skills that she taught them. That’s what inspired Finnegan to go into teaching. She loved the idea of motivating others.

She originally started with an English degree and a minor in communications, but had no idea what to do with her degree. She began with some odd jobs such as working for a housing agency as a communication assistant. After meeting her husband, she decided to follow her dream of teaching by getting a master’s degree in education curriculum and instruction.

Finnegan originally started teaching in an elementary school, but it wasn’t her passion. As much as she loved working with them, she found much more enjoyment in being able to use her sarcasm and humor a lot more with high schoolers.

Which is why, 13 years ago, Finnegan started her career at Oviedo High School. She’s currently the AP literature teacher, also teaching a few standard English 4 classes at the end of the day. She loves teaching for several reasons, but her biggest motivation to keep teaching: students. 

“I just enjoy making connections with the kids,” Finnegan said. “I wish I could come to school and just sit and listen and talk to them.”

As much as Finnegan wishes to befriend all of her students, she also enjoys seeing them come back to visit her. From seeing them all suited up for work or to having families, she loves seeing how much they’ve grown. 

Finnegan stands out because of her ability to welcome or make everyone in the student body feel important, according to senior Kate Campbell. Campbell is a current student in her AP literature class. 

“She’s very personal with [her] students,” Campbell said. “I feel like you can tell she cares about you.

Finnegan has been the teacher for the junior class for around nine years, which means she’s in charge of the prom and powderpuff. She continues to love working with students even out of the school day. 

With six English classes to teach and being a class sponsor, she still managed to find time to help create and sponsor the Black Student Union. 

“I think the reason I wanted to start it is we don’t have a huge population of students of color,” Finnegan said. “But it doesn’t matter if we have five or 250,000 of them. They need to have a voice.” 

Her supportive nature to make sure everyone is represented is another thing that makes her stand out from the rest of the teachers at OHS. As current president of the Black Student Union, senior Riyan Tuck has also seen this firsthand.

“She makes everyone around her feel appreciated and loved, no matter what,” said Tuck. “She encourages everyone to be their very best and provides us with opportunities and resources that allow us to do just that.”

Being a teacher can be exhausting and challenging, but to Finnegan, it’s all about how to be a better teacher to her students.

As an inspiration to all, she teaches her students with intent to help them grow a deeper  knowledge, while also maintaining a close bond with everyone. And even though she’s been teaching for a few decades, she still finds it just as fun as she did in her beginning years.

“I kind of love talking about literature,” she said. “It keeps bringing me back because I can still find ways to connect with the students. I still find so much joy and entertainment coming in and listening to the kids talk.”