Emily Heydon C’16, M’17, C’23 comes from a family of teachers.
“My mom was a teacher, my grandma was a teacher. It’s something that really stood out to me,” she said. “It was that, or being a nurse, and I just realized I loved kids.”
So, when it came time to look at college programs, she went to the University of Wisconsin-Stout and got her undergraduate degree in early childhood education. She knew she enjoyed working with younger children and wanted to explore ways to help them more.
Now in her ninth year as an educator, Emily teaches kindergarten at St. Pius X school in Rochester. Born Catholic, she went through the Rochester Catholic school system growing up. When she attended a public university for college, she always felt like something was missing.
“What I loved about returning to a Catholic school system is the community, the sense of family. We know what’s going on with one another, and we’re very supportive. And as a teacher, I can teach the whole child. When we’re having conflicts or when we are upset, we can go back to Jesus’ teachings. The ability to draw on that moral development is sometimes missing outside the Catholic school system,” she said. “For parents who are choosing to send their children to a Catholic school, you know that it’s their hope that what we’re doing is the same as what they are doing at home.”
Emily recently received a graduate certificate in Catholic School Leadership from Saint Mary’s University, which has helped her continue to grow as a faith-based educator. Through courses and practices, she learned about the national benchmarks and guidelines for secondary and elementary schools and was also struck by how applicable the program was to her building.
“I learned more about the Church’s history than I thought I knew growing up,” she said. “Combining that with understanding the behind-the-scenes work of an administrator was truly eye-opening. Understanding the true mission of why we’re doing what we are doing in our buildings. Any teacher in a Catholic school should just try and take this program to become more familiar with what they are doing.”
This year, Emily looks forward to rebuilding and strengthening Catholic identity within her school.
“I want to help our staff if they do not have a Catholic background and just be that unheard assistant for my current administrator in our building,” she said.