Sister Wanda Jinks, O.P.
Sister Daniel Marie Jinks, O.P.
Sister Wanda was born in Dallas, Texas but the family moved to Beaumont, Texas when she was three years old. She attended elementary school at Pennsylvania Elementary. She went on to attend St. Anthony Grammar School and St. Anthony High School in Beaumont, where she was introduced to the Dominican sisters. She remembers the joy and kindness of the sisters who taught her. During the summer of her junior year Sister Wanda began to think about religious life. She attended Lamar University in Beaumont upon her high school graduation and after two years of study Sister Wanda entered Sacred Heart Convent. “God kept putting the idea in my head. I had to check it out.”
Sister Wanda spent her first years teaching math and sciences at St. Mary Cathedral Catholic School in Galveston, Texas, St. Mary Catholic Elementary and High School in Orange, Texas, and Holy Rosary Catholic School in San Bernardino, California. In addition to teaching she served as Athletic Director and coach for girls’ volleyball, basketball and softball.
In 1980 Sister Wanda worked at the Houston ISD Outdoor Education Center in Trinity, Texas. Here fifth graders from different HISD schools would learn about the environment and how to work together as a team. After teaching outdoor education for a year she went to teach at St. Vincent de PaulCatholic School and Seton Catholic Junior High in Houston, Texas. From 1984 to 1991, Sister Wanda taught at St. Pius X High School. She enjoyed her seven years at the school and has wonderful memories of the students and faculty there. During this time she was also attending the University of Houston and in 1989 Sister Wanda earned her Master of Education in Secondary Science Education and Teacher Certification in Math and Science.
In 1992 Sister Wanda taught special education at Hope Center for Youth Girls Wilderness School in Groveton, Texas. This program provided a place for girls who had educational and emotional struggles. Sister Wanda says she has gravitated to her work as a special education teacher. “I would findmyself in the corner of the underdog, always looking for ways I could help the children who struggled.”
In 1995 Sister Wanda went to Port Neches, Texas where she helped found the Behavior Management Program at Port Neches-Groves High School. “Many of these students had learning disabilities that caused them to be unsuccessful in school and they didn’t want to work. That often led to the students being defiant and disruptive. They needed someone who would care about them, encourage them, and be consitstent.” Sister Wanda left Port Neches-Groves High School in 2002 and taught at Vidor High School in Vidor, Texas until 2004.
In 2006 Sister Wanda began teaching at Sharpstown High School in Houston, Texas. For the past eight years she has taught and encouraged many students with learning and behavioral challenges. “You have to be patient and flexible and you have to take the time to figure out how a student can best learn. I get so excited to see their progress.” She recalls one autistic child who was unable to write down what she had been taught in her science class. “When I looked at her papers she had drawn a picture representing the cell cycle. Her drawing showed that she had grasped the concepts. It was wonderful!”
Sister Wanda retired from her teaching position at Sharpstown in May 2014. She is currently volunteering at St. Dominic Villa and spends a few days a week at St. Pius X High School helping students in the Learning Center as a resource specialist. Sister Wanda plans to continue her work with the girls’ summer camp sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Houston. Over the past 14 years she has enjoyed this very much. She also plans to explore her interests in photography, making photo note cards, experiencing wildlife and our National Parks and learning more about computers.
“I love my life as a Dominican sister. I would not be nearly as happy as I am if I weren’t a Dominican. I like being in community. We work together for a collective purpose. We help each other. We see each others’ unique gifts and are encouraged to be who we are. The things we do are with a collective interest. I feel blessed to be here.”
Interview with Sister Wanda Jinks, O.P. July 2014. Updated March 2017.