For science teacher Enrique Henriquez, an experience with a family member when he was 13 years old piqued his interest in pursuing science as a major in college. While initially thinking of becoming a physical therapist, he landed in education 18 years ago and has been teaching at Moreau for the past 14 years, while also being the Mariners’ cross-country coach.
“My sister was born with a dislocated hip and when I saw how the doctors helped her, it triggered me to pursue the sciences in college,” Henriquez said.
After graduating from San Leandro High School, he was set to attend the Naval Academy but was “a bit intimidated” by the school and also wanted to stay closer to his single mother. Saint Mary’s College of California offered him a full scholarship to run cross country and track for the Gaels and his academic path was chosen.
Henriquez received a degree in health science and received his teaching credential as part of the school’s fellowship program, which is similar to Moreau’s fellowship program for alumni interested in a career in education. He then taught math and science at an inner-city school in Camden, New Jersey and fell in love with education.
“I worked with adjudicated youth and this was their last chance to go to a regular school versus a juvenile detention center,” Henriquez said. “Working with the youth gave a different insight, made me appreciate the mentors and role models that I had had growing up and helped me see that I wanted to be a teacher for life.”
Henriquez returned to California and taught for two years at Elmhurst Middle School in Oakland, but became tired of the commute. He was already helping Moreau teacher Phil Wilder on the track team so approached him about any teaching positions at Moreau. He started out as an earth science and algebra teacher and now teaches chemistry and conceptual physics.
“As a teacher, I try to instill a love and passion for science by building the students’ confidence in the subject matter so that they leave with a positive view of science,” Henriquez said. “As a coach, I want them to feel that they can not only be a life-long learner but also a life-long athlete.”
He added, “it is important as a person, coach or teacher to be consistent to build confidence and trust because no matter what happens, the students do care as much as we do even if they don’t show it.”