There are three professors from the education department who won’t be returning this fall: Dr. Laura Heitritter, Professor Tonya Moore-Huss and Professor Heidi Douma. They were asked to reflect on their time at Northwestern and share what’s next.
For 28 years, Dr. Laura Heitritter has called NW home. There are quite a few things about working at NW she’ll miss, including working with coworkers who have become family and forming relationship with students.
The students have always been one of Heitritter’s favorite parts of her job: she’s loved seeing every piece of a student’s career, from Foundations of Education to student teaching and even beyond. She’s been able to observe students completing their practicum hours or student teaching requirements and loves seeing where students go – what roles they step into and what impacts they have on the world around them.
Heitritter isn’t sure what the future holds once the spring semester ends.
“I’m waiting for God to make my path straight,” she said. “I am open. Wonderfully uncertain.”
After five years, Tonya Moore-Huss is also leaving NW. Much like Heitritter, she says her favorite part of her job has been getting to know students in and out of the classroom.
Seeing students grow is something Moore-Huss does not take lightly. In fact, she said it is “something God has called me to do.” She strives to provide students with everything they need – someone to talk to, someone to believe in them or even someone to give them tough love.
“I want to be the teacher/mentor that I’d want my own kids to have,” Moore-Huss said. “I love being their NW mom.”
Junior Lauren Green has experienced this firsthand.
“She has shown me what it is like to care for students outside the classroom,” Green said. “She has taught me how to love and work through obstacles.”
After leaving NW, Moore-Huss will miss all the wonderful colleagues and students she has worked with, but she is excited to work at the Orange City elementary school, teaching special education. She would love for her classroom to be an extension to NW classrooms, and she hopes she can continue to help prepare education majors for a future of teaching.
The third professor leaving the education department at NW is Heidi Douma. Over the past three years, one of her favorite parts of the job has been working with her colleagues in the education department and with the online staff because they encouraged her to be more than she thought she could be.
Douma has also loved working with students and always kept her door open as an invitation for students to stop by. She loves talking with students about anything from teaching, to families, to life and the struggles it can bring.
Senior Kadie Bauer has benefitted from Douma’s open-door policy.
“She is willing to put her students ahead of everything and is always willing to help and give any advice you need,” Bauer said.
It has been a privilege for Douma to walk alongside traditional on-campus students, as well as the many adult learners who were finishing their bachelor’s degrees online. She loves watching students meet goals and be committed to their schooling. Both in person and online, in the classroom and outside of it, the relationships Douma has formed have been important to her.
“I’ve probably learned more in my classes than my students!” Douma said.
Next for Douma is a role as an early childhood special education consultant for Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA) in Sioux City, Iowa. She is looking forward to getting back into the classrooms and working with younger students and their parents, and she is grateful for the experiences she’s had at NW that have shown her how God works through people when they are open to his leading.
All three of these women have left a mark on the education program and the students they’ve worked with. Each has a bright future ahead as they continue to live out the “teacher as servant” model they’ve taught their students and step boldly into their new roles.