Student Teacher Bekkers Leaves NDA with Gratitude, Praise

Madison Polack, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Notre Dame Academy is very fortunate to have student teachers each year. A student teacher named Heather Bekkers has been observing learning and experiencing the teaching profession in Ms. Jean Thillman’s classes.

She is currently a student at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and is originally from Greenfield, Wisconsin, in Milwaukee County. Also, she went to high school at Saint Thomas More in Milwaukee, the school where Mr. Pauly worked prior to coming to NDA.

Originally, Miss Bekkers planned to become a pediatric nurse. However, after a difficult semester in a Cellular and Molecular Biology class, she realized that was not the correct path for her. Luckily, she was taking an Intro to English class at the time.

“There was something about it that just clicked with me. I had always loved books, but I never thought I would make a career with it,” she said.

Miss Bekkers mentioned that she had always wanted to make a big difference in the life of others. In the break of the winter and spring semester, this is what helped her to decide on becoming an English teacher.

Also, she said, “ I love books and writing. There is a certain beauty in the written word, but not everyone can see it. It is just amazing to think that every book ever written is simply a different arrangement of 26 simple letters. Those tales inspire and change lives. I believe that English can do that for everyone if they let it.”

Miss Bekkers had a number of teachers in high school that changed her view of the world.

Mr. Dineen, her junior year English teacher, had a particular flare whose teaching style made learning the most boring subject interesting. She said, “To this day, I still give him a decent amount of credit for my shift towards becoming a teacher.”

Mrs. Everett, her eighth grade English teacher, was another inspiration for Miss Bekkers too.

“Mrs. Everett taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. She pushed me to further my love of writing. This eventually resulted in my second degree, creative writing.”

Miss Bekkers has learned many things through her experience with Mrs. Thillman and her classes, particularly that teaching is going to be the biggest adventure of her life. She mentioned that no class in college could have ever prepared her for the journey teaching really is. Also, every day can be different and no lesson ever goes exactly as planned. She has learned that it is important to be ready and to roll with the punches.

“I also realized that I made the perfect decision for me when it came to my future and my job,” Miss Bekkers said. “Teaching is the perfect fit for me.”

A positive with being a student teacher at NDA for Miss Bekkers has been the students and the staff at NDA. She has enjoyed reading the outstanding work turned in by the majority of the students and believes that NDA is blessed with many talented writers.

She said, “The only things I would put in the negative category would be the early mornings and the piles of papers to grade. It was certainly a difficult shift when it came to going back to a normal school schedule. As for the papers, I never really realized how much actually went into getting assignments back to students. I certainly know now and it has become a big part of my life.”

After she leaves NDA, the next move for her is to go to Edison Middle School. She will do another teaching assignment there and will graduate from college in early May. After that, she hopes to have a job lined up in Brown County.

Lastly, Miss Bekkers described her overall evaluation of NDA in these words:  “NDA is a very special place. I love it here. The students certainly make the school. It reminds me a great deal of my own high school. The connections that are made and the way they treat one another is so different from most schools I have taught in before. There is a love you have for your friends and God that makes everyone so kind. The students inspire me daily to be the best I can in hopes of inspiring them. It was truly a blessing to be at NDA.”