Teacher – Buena High School
16 Years of Service
” The classroom was really her natural habitat … “
Lynnell Robinson Cunningham Hankins was an inspiration to students, an administrator’s dream and a faculty friend.
A teacher once called Lynnells’ classroom her “natural habitat.” And so it was — a place where her skills flourished and students were inspired by a caring teacher who taught them how to solve problems, stay positive and treat all people with respect.
When diagnosed with cancer, she chose to keep teaching while fighting the disease in the same way she lived; with great dignity, strength, and above all, grace. After a week in ICU, she laboriously propped herself up to finish final marks for her students. She finished the grading before passing just a few weeks later, punctuating the end of her life with the work she loved.
Born in Los Angeles on Jan. 23, 1948 to William and Helena (Bailey) Robinson, the family moved to Somis and she graduated with honors from Camarillo High School in 1966. She went on to Pitzer College, Cal Poly and then UC-Berkeley after marrying David Cunningham, a Ventura attorney. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Math at Berkeley, a master’s in Environmental Studies at Cal State Dominguez Hills and a teaching credential at Cal State Northridge — all while bringing up three children: RaeLee, Ryan and Nicholas.
Settling in Ventura, she was elected president of the American Association of University Women and Kimball Arts Center, and served on the board of The Montessori Learning Center. She applied her skills in writing environmental impact reports, but her passion for teaching became too strong to ignore. It was a perfect fi t – her students voted her Most School Spirit, Most Helpful and Most Inspirational, among others.
Her professional talents won admiration from fellow teachers over her 16 years at Buena. One said she was inspired “by her masterful organization and preparation, her rapport with students and calm atmosphere of the classroom.” She helped organize the math department and was in charge of the final exam schedule. She set up the peer tutoring program and helped create Calculus Camp.
She also volunteered as Buena’s cheerleading adviser, not for the events but to show support for her students.
Hankins spent an adventurous year teaching in Turkey where the locals embraced her as “the running woman” for her daily jogs and where she won the highest praise from the director. She returned to Buena, met and married John Hankins of Santa Barbara and moved to Ojai.
Hankins was also the inspiration for Womenade of Ventura, established after her death to provide direct relief to needy youth.
In her honor, family and friends set up the Lynnell Hankins Memorial Scholarship Fund at Buena. Anyone wishing to carry on that legacy may donate, c/o Buena High School, Attn: Steve Magoon, 5670 Telegraph Ave., Ventura CA 93003.
“Long may you run.”