Tucked away in the corner of the 1000 building at Collins Hill High School, Dr. Heather Held leads a classroom full of 30 still sleepy students. She stands in the front of her room, before her sturdy podium, and conducts a discussion on the latest act of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her projected voice, along with her loud personality, prompts the students into action, and they rush to turn to the correct page.
When asked about how she chose books to teach, Dr. Held responded, “There are some anchor texts which everyone teaches (Oedipus Rex, Lord of the Flies), but there is a matter of choice in other major works we choose (Antigone, Woman Warrior).” Many of the books chosen are through convenience, meaning books that Collins Hill may already have. Although some of the staple books have to be purchased, Dr. Held tries to pick books that may be the easiest to get a hold of, a sign of the care she holds for her students.
Dr. Held seems, to many of her students, like someone born and bred to become a Language Arts teacher. However, after a brief conversation about her story, it is clear that is not the case. I learned that Dr. Held actually started as an office manager for an interior design firm, and then decided to go to school for a master’s degree in teaching when the job market started getting tough. “It wasn’t until I stepped into a high school classroom to student teach that I knew it was my destiny.”
I also decided to get an alternative perspective from a student for this intriguing profile on one of my favorite teachers. Jenny Nguyen, a junior who had sophomore Language Arts with Dr. Held the previous year, agreed to share a little bit about her experience with Dr. Held. Nguyen divulged that out of the plethora of books read last year, she enjoyed Lord of the Flies the most. “It felt realistic and showed morals that can still be applied today. Also, the plot was really interesting and actually made me want to keep reading,” she replied earnestly.
The most important takeaway from my interview with a former student, however, was when I asked how she thought Dr. Held’s class affected her future. “I feel so close to her, so much that I can talk to her about anything,” Nguyen said. A common theme for anyone who walks out of Dr. Heather Held’s Language Arts class: an unforgettable experience with arguably one of the best teachers at Collins Hill.