Salk Middle School
Elk River, Minnesota
Megan Heitkamp says becoming a teacher was not a linear progression; it was not something she had dreamed of doing since she was a young student. However, she does feel she was destined to be a teacher, to be a shaper of skills and to be a supporter of students overcoming challenges in and out of class. “I have a bias toward helping, and this factor has a positive influence over my journey,” she says.
As a magnet teacher, Heitkamp has focused on both the small steps within classrooms that build into the giant leaps toward systemic school culture changes. She is in a unique position teaching 7th grade students, and being the curriculum coordinator for the school’s magnet program. Because of this diverse role, she can concentrate on things that impact the students in her classroom, and zero in on helping teachers improve their work in regards to the magnet theme and the five pillars of magnet programming.
Heitkamp believes that teaching should be inquiry-based, authentically connected to the learners, and should help learners examine new perspectives with curiosity, not judgement. As she says, “It is my hope that learners participate in discussions about scientific and environmental issues as they begin to craft their own scientific values that will impact their decision-making. Learners need to be able to understand the results at doctor’s appointments, grasp the weather report in the media, and weigh the pros and cons of local and global environmental initiatives that have long-lasting impacts. Encouraging a deep scientific literacy is at the heart of my teaching philosophy.”
Raise the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow.