It has been said that to teach is to touch lives forever, and that is what fourth grade teacher Heidi Schroderus ’00, MSE ’06, is set out to do. She has had two career dreams in her life, to be a teacher and a writer. As a teacher at Lakeview Elementary in the Neenah Joint School District, she inspires her students to become better writers, but not as much as they inspire her to become a better teacher.
She has a simple teaching philosophy, to move learning forward. Every day in the classroom she strives to provide students with an emotionally and physically safe and cooperative learning environment.
Schroderus was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, returned to achieve her masters in reading education. As she reflects back on her experience in the classrooms at UW Oshkosh, she sees how the rigorous quality of education prepared her for the tough job that teaching is. Her reading interventions class taught by COEHS associate professor Patricia Scanlan taught her about student learning and how to address individual student needs. Schroderus learned how to evaluate where her students are academically and behaviorally and how to encourage them to move forward in learning.
In 2008, Schroderus attended the Fox Valley Writing Project (FVWP), which brings K-12 educators together to help them grow as teachers of writing and become better writers themselves. It gives teachers an opportunity to learn more about student learning and writing, while also improving the teacher’s practice.
“I love writing myself and wanted to improve my teaching of writing. I heard so many great things about the FVWP and was looking for a new challenge professionally,” said Schroderus. “I became a better writer myself and a much better teacher of writing.”
“In the Summer Institute we each choose a professional book group to join. Mine was a book on mentor texts. Up until then, I was not using mentor texts in my teaching of writing. Now I use them all the time with students. We surround ourselves with amazing authors and we use their words, voice and writing styles to inspire us. My students have become better writers and they see themselves sitting next to these authors and trying to be like them. It is a beautiful thing,” said Schroderus.
Since attending FVWP, she has seen the impact the program has made on her. She now sees herself as a developed educator, both personally and professionally. Shroderus continues to be involved in the program because it has given her multiple opportunities to present workshops to other teachers and become more involved in leadership roles within her school district.
By Carlyn Brown