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Renee Heide: Nurturing Curiosity and Independence in 5th Grade Students

The Hornet Hive Podcast

Release Date: 01/04/2024

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In this episode of "The Hornet Hive," Dr. Christopher Lewis, a member of the Williamston Community Schools Board of Education, is joined by Renee Heide, a 5th-grade teacher at Explorer Elementary. The episode offers insights into Renee's experiences and highlights what makes Williamston a special place for both students and staff.

Dr. Lewis begins by emphasizing the importance of showcasing the remarkable things happening within the school district and providing an opportunity for the community to get to know the dedicated staff. He introduces Renee Heide, welcoming her to the episode.

Renee shares her journey to Williamston, explaining how she was drawn to the district due to its reputation and the positive experiences she heard from colleagues and friends. She describes her teaching experience in 5th grade and the unique qualities of working with children at this age, including their enthusiasm for learning and curiosity.

Renee discusses the sustainability and motivation she finds in Williamston, highlighting the strong sense of community and collaboration among educators, parents, and students. She expresses gratitude for the support she has received during challenging times, including the pandemic, and the connections she has built with parents through regular parent-teacher conferences.

The episode concludes with Renee sharing a heartwarming story about the enduring bonds she forms with her students, witnessing their successes even after they have moved on to different stages in life. She emphasizes the joy of receiving emails and updates from former students, showing the lasting impact teachers can have.

Dr. Lewis commends Renee for her dedication and commitment to the students and wishes her continued success as a valued member of the Williamston school community.

 

TRANSCRIPT

Christopher Lewis [00:00:19]:

Welcome back to the Horned Hive. I'm your host, doctor Christopher Lewis, one of the members of the Williamston Community Schools Board of Education. Really excited to have you back Again, this week. As always, every week, I love being able to talk with you, to share some of the amazing Things that are happening within our schools because there are so many amazing things that are happening that are allowing our kids to learn, to grow, to Thrive in their educational experience. But also, I want you to get to know the staff that are working with our students as well because Whether you have met every staff member in our schools, which I doubt you have, or you have met only those that interact your own kids or if you don't have kids in the district, you haven't interacted with the schools in quite a while, this is an opportunity for you to be able to get to know some of those people as well. So every week, we we talk about issues. We talk about topics. We talk about things that are happening.

Christopher Lewis [00:01:17]:

But even better, I have an opportunity at times to bring you staff to allow for you to interact with them, allow you to get to know who they are, What brought them here and more. Today, we got another great guest with us today. Renee Heide is with us today, and Renee is a 5th grade teacher at Explorer Elementary. We're gonna be talking about her experiences and getting to know her a little bit more, so I'm really excited to have her here. Renee, thanks so much for joining us today.

Renee Heide [00:01:47]:

Thank you for having me.

Christopher Lewis [00:01:48]:

It is my pleasure. And I love to be able to, first and foremost, take a step back, And I'd love to turn the clock back in time, back to your 1st step into this district. What originally brought you to Williams?

Renee Heide [00:02:02]:

Well, I had taught in, Michigan for actually almost 20 years, moved to Illinois, moved back in 2019. Even when I was here prior, I had desire to be in Williamston. I went to Michigan State University for my undergrad and masters. Grew up In Portland, not too far away. And I had heard so many great things about Williamston while in college And while in other professions, one of my former principals and coworker had worked in Williston as well as one of my friends from college. So I had always heard great things about the community, the programs that were offered in Williamston. I love the Size of the town and of the school district and just really was hoping that I could come to Williamston when I returned back to Michigan.

Christopher Lewis [00:02:52]:

I mentioned that you teach 5th grade. And as a elementary teacher, you have a lot of flexibility. You ended up in 5th grade, And that may have been by choice, or it may have been by circumstance or other factor as well. Talk to me about what you love most about teaching 5th grade and how you ended up in 5th grade.

Renee Heide [00:03:10]:

Interesting story that my 1st year of teaching, I taught 1st grade, which was quite an adventure, my 1st year in teaching. Then after that, I taught And when I went to Illinois, I was offered a 5th grade position. So it's just interesting that I moved my way right up the ladder, which has really helped me understand Kids in developmental growth. So when I came to Williamston, there was a 5th grade position open. It just seemed the perfect spot for me. I love the Curriculum, challenging. It motivates me to learn more, and I love the kids. This age kids, It's just a wonderful age to teach.

Christopher Lewis [00:03:56]:

What is it about those 5th graders that makes them so wonderful to teach? What is it about the The way either that they think or the the things that they do that have made you decide to stay there and stay put In 5th grade.

Renee Heide [00:04:10]:

5th grade is wonderful because they're still young enough to really Listen well, they're sponges, they love learning, they have a great sense of humor, And their ability to become really curious happens quickly. They may not be interested in certain things, or they may not like math, but it doesn't take a long time to really get them inspired and wondering about things. So I love being able to capture their interests and really work with them to become independent and confident and it's successful.

Christopher Lewis [00:04:51]:

There are definite things that sustain teachers in their roles and their as we talked about 5th grade, but but in being a teacher itself, And you've been with the district now for a handful years, including the pandemic years that were a challenge for all teachers, Let alone being a teacher that was in our district for not a ton of time. I mean, you were you were in a district for a year or so, but but but still Big transitions, big changes, things that you have to deal with. So talk to me about what has sustained you over the years in our district and what makes Williamston a great place to work?

Renee Heide [00:05:27]:

The one thing that struck me even in the interview that I had with, 10 to 12 people from, You know, parents to board members to teachers and administration. It was just the passion that I could feel even in my interview. I I just To feel that these people really care about the community, really care about children, really care about their experiences in the school. And then with that, and I've seen it even more and more every year is just the collaboration. You know, not only here at School, and it was my 1st year here when the pandemic hit. The support from, you know, not only my grade level, teachers that I work with, but People of all areas of the school, such as speech and language and the related arts teachers, administration, and And that kind of support, but also collaboration between student to student, I have seen more and more of. This is my 5th year in Williamston, but just the middle school students coming over to support our kids in in music And the high school students coming over to work with our our math kids or provide for school tutoring and parent support has been amazing. Every year I've been here, I've had a 100% of my parents come in for parent teacher conferences.

Renee Heide [00:06:46]:

So just the support and collaboration of Everyone involved in the school has been amazing.

Christopher Lewis [00:06:53]:

Now I mentioned the fact that there are things that sustain you, but I also know that Teachers are storytellers. There there are so many stories that you take home with you or that happen in school that you talk to other teachers about. And I guess as you think back to your experience here in Williamston, Can you share a story with me that really, for you, epitomizes the experience that you've had as a Williamston staff member?

Renee Heide [00:07:23]:

I think over the years To you know, this is my 34th year of teaching. I think the one thing I've really learned is Throughout it all and things that have already happened to me here in a short time is that it it's you create these unique bonds with all of your kids. They're all different based on a lot of different elements. But the greatest reward, really, is these visits back and these emails From former students and, you know, I've been to baby showers and weddings of students that I've had, but it's just creating these lifelong Friends, really. People that are been a part of my life for a long time and just getting those emails back. I just got one Friday actually From a middle school student that told me he's getting all a's and that he's got a good positive attitude and he's taking care of himself and that's What makes me proud and what makes me motivated and makes me want to work even harder than I do.

Christopher Lewis [00:08:26]:

I just wanna say thank you. Thank you for sharing your story, for everything that you do to engage our kids in so many different ways, prepare them for that next jump to move to Middle school, which is a whole different world and a whole different game. And definitely something that kids are excited about, but they're also Scared about. And I know my own kids in that transition. Their 5th grade teachers really did a great job of being able to help them in that transition as they prepare. And then I just wanna say thank you for the work that you do to be able to help our kids to do that and for being here today, and I wish you all the best.

Renee Heide [00:09:03]:

Thank you. Go Hornets.