EducationLeadershipSchoolhouse Heroes

Schoolhouse Heroes: Heather Schilling

By September 9, 2019 No Comments

This series spotlights the incredible work being done by amazing educators from all over the world, in a variety of roles. While classroom teachers are on the frontlines, directly impacting our students on a daily basis, educators wear many different hats and are in many different positions. Heather Schilling is the most recent to share a bit about her work.

Heather is the Director of Teacher Education for Manchester University in Indiana. The following are the questions I pose for all of the spotlighted educators, and Heather’s answers to them.

What do you love most about your job?

I love a lot of things about my work, but the relationships I have with my students and my colleagues feed the fires of my soul. I have the privilege of working beside other intentional and compassionate professionals as we help college students navigate higher education and life in general. The students who attend Manchester University are decent human beings who want to make a difference in this world whether that is in their own families, their small towns, or globally. The relationships I have formed with students and colleagues sustain me years after they have left Manchester, and that’s pretty cool.

How do you make the greatest impact on students?
Over the course of my career as a former high school teacher and now a college professor, I recognize my talent is empowering young people. I see this in their growth as people. Many times, first-year students know they want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be engaged in the field of education, but they don’t know how or they don’t think they are “old enough.” I love to take these young people, nurture them in such a way as they feel supported whether they succeed or fail, and then structure leadership opportunities in such a way as they don’t even realize they are doing something remarkable until the event or the project is completed. When they realize they were responsible for organizing a workshop, designing a community literacy night, implementing a service project that raises over $2,000, collaborating with professionals in the classroom, etc., they are empowered to take those skills with them into their own professional settings and communities.
What do you wish more people knew about education?
Nothing is more rewarding than education – whether you are a classroom teacher, a counselor, a YMCA coordinator, a youth pastor, a provider at a center for Autism, etc. – Educators, no matter the form, have an impact on the people with whom they work. I wish more people realized they only have one shot at every day with a child or young adult. When we create people-centered experiences which require inquiry, critical thinking, risk-taking, and even failure, we empower children and young adults to face the challenges life inevitably will give them both personally and professionally.
What is your favorite learning resource (person, podcast, book, Twitter chat, conference, etc)?
I only get to pick one? Yikes. I use Twitter a lot, following key education people and hashtags such as #educolor AND I love to do Twitter chats. The one book EVERYONE needs to read is Loving Learning by Tom Little. It’s a game changer!
Anything else we should know?
As educators – no matter the type – we have the power to influence others. The implication for us is huge. We have to create inclusive, diverse, compassionate, supportive learning environments for ALL of the children and young adults in our charge. Our biases, explicit or implicit, enter our relationships, and we need to lean into those. We need to recognize the power of words, compassion, and empathy. As educators, we have to walk with integrity and conviction. In the end, educators’ power can change the world. I believe that with my whole heart.
There is so much to dig into with Heather: higher education, leadership, K-12, equity and diversity…the list goes on. Connect with Heather on LinkedIn. As educators, our goals are all the same – connect with students and provide them all they need to be successful in life.

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