People To Know: Ms. Heineman
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How many people are able to say that they are missing two teeth as an adult, are a vegan, and graduated from a class where they knew everyone on a first name basis? Well, Ms. Jennifer Heineman can say yes to all three.
For those of you who don’t know, Ms. Heineman currently teaches 9th grade AVID–a college preparatory class–and AP Psychology at AVHS. She has also previously taught every social studies class offered at AVHS (with the exception of Economics and Criminology). But her journey started long before Apple Valley.
Heineman grew up in Paynesville, Minnesota, as the fifth child of six. She describes this experience: “I quickly learned the value of just going with the flow. If your day wasn’t going right, people were just like, ‘uh huh, yup, sorry – now get your shoes on and get in the car, time to go.’ There was just no time for drama.”
She attended Paynesville High, where her graduating class only had 106 people. She wrote for her school’s newspaper, The Bulldog, and was a cheerleader. Describing the cheerleader experience, she says, “My bestie talked me into cheerleading, which I dreaded. That was actually a lot of fun.”
After high school, Heineman first attended University of Minnesota-Morris and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History (of Religion) and Women’s Studies. She then moved to New Jersey and went on to attend Rutgers University, earning a Masters in Teaching and Learning.
Heineman thanks her dad and her high school teachers for inspiring her to pursue a teaching career. “My dad was always so fiery about kids being cared for and protected, and then my high school teachers were so responsive to my individual needs.” She wanted to give students the same attention and care she received as a student.
After graduating, Ms.Heineman got a job teaching in New Jersey. On her third day of teaching, the unfortunate attacks of September 11, 2001, took place.
“That was scary. We were across the river in New Jersey, we could see the smoke, the planes hit the Pentagon below us in DC, the planes went down in a field west of us in Pennsylvania. It truly felt like we were under attack. All cell service was disrupted. Kids couldn’t get ahold of their parents because the receptor towers were on the top of the World Trade Towers. That was also the main subway stop in from Jersey. We could smell the burning by the end of the school day. There were no cops, no firefighters–they were all in the city. We were under martial law. Some of my students lost parents that day, and I felt so ill-equipped to help them.”
Through this traumatic event Ms.Heineman was able to take away a few things. “I took away from those that life appears static but it can all change on a dime. I took away that people are mostly scared of what they don’t know. I took away that we need to lead with love, and that your love might look different to different people in your life.”
As far as love goes, Ms.Heineman sure has hers. She met her husband, David, in college. They meet through a former college roommate and continued to stay in touch after college. “He was the cutest boy ever and so confident and funny and interesting. He painted, he cooked (still does)! After I left I sent him a postcard that said it was lovely to meet him; He found my email at college. We dated for a long time and got married when I was 27.”
After she and her husband got married they eventually moved to Minnesota. Once they came to Minnesota they had their two children, Chris and Daniel.
Through it all, Ms. Heineman continues to spread good vibes and positivity to everyone she meets. The best life lesson she wants to leave her students with is to let go of the past. “The best life lesson I learned was to let yourself off the hook with things you’ve done in the past. I used to feel so bad about the fiery things I had said to people, hurtful things that I cringe to think about. Why did I think that was the best course of action? I would ruminate, perseverate over these things. But as Maya Angelou said, ‘I did then what I knew what to do. Now that I know better, I do better.’”
Lastly, here are some fun facts about Ms.Heineman:
- Favorite Board Game: Love Letter, Clue, Catan, King of Tokyo, Forbidden Island.
- Favorite TV Show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Northern Exposure.
- Favorite Books: Cutting for Stone, The Name of the Rose, Pride and Prejudice, Tom Jones, Paradise Lost, and any Henry James.
- Favorite Color: Blue or Orange
- Favorite Food: “Anything spicy. Not a big fan of meat, cheese and bread type meals.” (She’s vegan)
- Favorite Vacation Spot: Ms.Heineman is quite the jet setter, she’s been to France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. She also really wants to go to Argentina, Turkey, Greece and India. But as far as favorite places go, she says, “OMG, Miami! Love that joint!”
- Favorite Store: “Probably H&M, though the cheapness of the clothes does bother me now. I used to think, bargain! Now I think of the poor person being paid nothing to make it. Sucks having a conscience.”
- Personality type: “I teach AP Psychology, I don’t believe in those! We are all waaaay more than four letters. That being said, I think I’m an ENFP.”