Advising other teachers is a key part of Heard’s new job. photo by Eric Alcott
By Kyle Mann & Jon Russell
off the record & staff writer
After 20 years working as a MPS teacher, Ann Heard is leaving the classroom to take on a bigger role in the MPS community. Having been a teacher for so long, Heard’s priorities revolve around helping students and this made the decision to switch jobs much easier.
“By helping the teachers I’m actually helping more students,” Heard said. “When I was a teacher, I could only help the students in my class, but now I can affect every student that is taught by the teachers I help.”
Her new job is officially called a Learning Coach for Secondary Staff, which is a coach for other teachers on technology and programs that are incorporated into the school. These include inputting grades, making Power Point documents and connecting a computer to a projector. English teacher Karen Martin has had some other needs for Heard. Heard will help to find information for Martin if she needs it.
“When someone can research for me, that will save me time,” Martin said. “This definitely would have been helpful in the past.”
Heard was chosen above other teachers and staff for several reasons. Before she was a teacher she was a media specialist for a number of years and she’s well known around the school. Because she’s easy to talk to, teachers will feel comfortable around her and won’t be afraid to ask questions about technology when a specialist might be patronizing. Martin agrees with Heard on this.
“She won’t make you feel dumb and if she doesn’t know the answer she will find out for you,” Martin said. “She’s not afraid to ask for help.”
What Heard will miss most about teaching is the students she had the opportunity to get to know.
“It’s just energizing being with students, juniors and seniors especially,” Heard said.
Even though she will be back to teaching when this job is no longer required, her students will miss her. James Ferritto took the change especially hard.
“I was pretty sad because I always enjoyed going to English class and now Mrs. Heard is gone,” Ferritto said.
Junior Ethan Kok says that Heard was his favorite teacher.
“Her best quality is everything about her personality,” Kok said. “She was always very flexible. If we needed more time she would give it to us.”
Each year, the state government gives teachers new requirements for technology for helping around the classroom and making jobs easier. Some teachers still have trouble with Moodle and inputting grades over the internet.
Heard used to be an English teacher, teaching both Senior English, a point three level course that revolves around classic literature such as 1984, Frankenstein and The Things They Carried and a class consisting mostly of juniors. This class also bases its content off of books like Their Eyes Were Watching God and House of the Spirits.
In Heard’s absence, a long-term sub has had to take over. Helen Bradshaw, the long-term substitute, says that it was a challenge taking over for Heard because the students all loved her so much. In her opinion, she has some big shoes to fill. Another challenge for her comes with teaching an English class for the first time. Bradshaw has to read all the books in the class for the first time and figure out plans for the class based on a book she’s reading at the same time as the students.
“It definitely keeps me busy,” Bradshaw said.
Despite all these challenges, Bradshaw believes that the students have accepted her. She was pleasantly surprised since she was coming in half-way through the year. She considered it a great opportunity, though, being only one year out of college. Up until now, she has been subbing occasionally, but has never had a long-term subbing position.
Bradshaw has had to ask Heard for help a few times since starting her substitution job, as she needed to know how to use Teacher Access Center and Moodle.
The job is federally funded and the school had to petition for the money, saying they needed the job. At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, the administrators will evaluate the job and decide whether it is still necessary after a year and a half. If they decide that the job is not needed, then Heard will go back to teaching her students and helping them out in the classroom.