About Mx. Hollis

Who Am I?
My name is Vanya Hollis and I am the Teacher Librarian at Orthopaedic Hospital Medical Magnet High School. My pronouns are they/them. I'm not offended by he/him/his or she/her/hers pronouns but I prefer they/them. I identify as queer, non-binary, transmasculine and genderqueer. 
I know I may not look like other female teachers you’ve had before and if you ever you have any questions, feel free to ask me! When I went through puberty, I started to grow hair on my chin. I asked my mom why and she told me it was genetic- she had hair on her chin and so did my aunt. Throughout high school, I tried to fit in and be like the other girls. I shaved the hair on my chin, wore make up and grew my hair long, but somehow, I knew that wasn’t me. I didn’t think about it until I got to college and realized that it was okay to just be myself- I didn’t have to be like other people. In my second year of college, I realized that I was queer and because of homophobia in our society, it took me a while to accept that about myself. I learned to love myself for who I am and I made a lot of great friends who were supportive. After college, I moved to San Francisco, and it was there that I grew my beard out for the first time. I loved the way it looked! For me, my beard, the masculine way I dress and my short hair all fit together to make me who I am and I’m happy with the way I look. I hope I can be a role model for you- I want you to love yourself unconditionally and be true to yourself.
My family
I was born in Ferguson, Missouri and I lived there until I went to Oberlin College in Ohio at age 18. My mom and dad got divorced when I was six years old. My dad remarried Clarene, my stepmom, who was African-American. She had 3 kids- Eva, Raymond and Chelle- who became my step-siblings. Growing up with a Black step-family significantly shaped the way I look at race in America: racism impacts all of us. Michael Brown was shot by police in Ferguson (my hometown) a few years ago, giving fuel to the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement. Since then (and for many years before), many other young men and women have been terrorized and killed by law enforcement in this country. The only difference between now and then is that people are standing up and using social media to fight back and make change. As a white person, I feel it is my job to examine my own internalized bias, educate other white people and to be an ally in the fight against racism.
I have three sisters- Renda, Chelle and Eva and one brother- Raymond. My mom is Linda and my dad is Steve. My mom passed away in January, 2021 from COVID and I have been devastated by that loss. I also have a new step-mom, Audrey and 5 step-sisters! I have twelve nieces and nephews, from age 12 all the way up to age 31 and many great-nieces and nephews. Most of my family still lives in Missouri and I go visit them once a year. I miss them a lot, but I also love living in Los Angeles. I currently live in L.A. with my partner of 20 years, Dina, our dog, Bunny, and our son, Milo, who is 9 years old and in the fourth grade. 
College Life and Afterwards!
In college, I majored in Biology and minored in Environmental Studies. But I realized that I love science way back in middle school! I am a naturally curious person.  I have always looked at the world and wondered how it works and why, especially the living world- the human body, plants, animals, cells, genetics, diseases. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian and when I was a teenager, I wanted to be a marine biologist, but I realized I liked working with young people in college. One summer, I worked for the Forest Service and I took middle school students outdoors to learn about nature. It was so fun! After college, I worked in Environmental Education for a year in Ohio at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center and then moved to San Francisco where I started the process of becoming a teacher. I taught there for 3 years and then moved to L.A. in 2006. I taught Biology and Health at Manual Arts from 2006-2012, and Biology, Health and Physiology at Augustus Hawkins from 2012-2019. I really loved being a Science and Health teacher!
My thoughts on school!
I love teaching and I love learning. Those two go together for me. Learning has done so much for me in improving my life and allowing me to think about things in new ways. Most of my family is low-income and do not have jobs that they like. When I was in high school, I decided that going to college was the only way for me to do something different. So I studied hard (I had 2-3 hours of homework every night!), did a lot of extra-curricular activities, played sports and eventually, I got into a good college and because of my good grades, I got a lot of scholarships. But I also recognize that I come from privilege: having a father who came from a middle-class background, being white and going to a private high school gave me certain privileges. The American Dream is a myth. 
College was where I learned a lot about myself and what I like; it also enabled me to get a job that I love- teaching science and now, being a Teacher Librarian!!!
Why did I become a Librarian?
I love reading and I want students to love it too. As a young person, I was able to envision my future possibilities in life through reading books. I want to find ways to encourage our youth to expand their visions of what is possible and open their horizons through the power of reading. I am also passionate about research and helping people find the information they want!
I believe free access to information and libraries are central to our democracy and our intellectual freedom. We should all have the right to read what we want. I also believe that school libraries, especially high school libraries, should be run by the students as much as possible, which means that students help to decorate, choose new furniture, choose books, help shelve and check out books, help create book displays and get their peers reading. That's what the Library Club is all about!

If you ever want to talk about anything- best books to read or just life issues, you can come talk to me at lunch, before school, or after school.  I’m excited to get to know you, to learn and to grow with you this school year. I hope you feel excited too!
Vanya Hollis (they/them)
P.S. My favorite color is green and I love chocolate chip cookies!
P.P.S. You can pronounce Mx. Hollis like this: "Mix Hollis!"