Every other week, the Warrior Word interviews a Hebrew Academy staff member and delves into various elements of their persona, such as their origins, hobbies, and any additional knowledge that they have to share. For this edition, the Warrior Word sat down with Ms. Heinonen, the newest edition to the high school English Department, to discuss her educational background, feelings for Hebrew Academy, and her love for cats!
Eliora Gdanski: Where were you born?
Ms. Heinonen: I was born in Stockholm, Sweden.
EG: When did you move from Sweden?
MH: I moved from Sweden to America in 1994.
EG: Where did you attend university?
MH: I attended university at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, New York.
EG: Where did you live before you moved to Miami?
MH: I recently lived in Lake Worth, but I was working in Delray Beach.
EG: What's your favorite part about Florida?
MH: My favorite part about Florida is the variety of animals! I love animals, especially cats. I have 7 rescue cats that I saved from the streets here in Florida.
EG: What got you into education?
MH: I taught a night school English class in Sweden to immigrants. I really loved teaching the people and the class, so I decided that teaching was what I wanted to do with my life. Additionally, my mother was a teacher so that always inspired me.
EG: What were your past educational roles?
MH: I always taught English or Language Arts either as a middle school or high school teacher. At a point, I had also taught a 7th and 9th grade World History class.
EG: What brought you to Hebrew Academy?
MH: I was looking for a new job and I came across the opening. I always go onto a school's website. I go through the websites carefully to look for the schools’ mission, classes that are offered, etc… I really liked what I saw. I applied for the job and soon after I had an interview with Dr. Stein and Mrs. Kaltman.
EG: What do you like most about Hebrew Academy?
MH: The kids and my colleagues are what I like most about Hebrew Academy. (And of course, the new building. It's beautiful!)
EG: Is there anything you find really challenging about Hebrew Academy?
MH: I haven't taught big classes in a while so that's definitely been a challenge. To give every student the attention they need is a priority for me as a teacher. And that can be a challenge when you have larger classes.
EG: How is Hebrew Academy different from all the other schools where you have worked?
MH: The biggest difference in Hebrew Academy compared to the other schools I've worked at is that it's a religious school. I’ve never worked at a religious school before, so I would say that is the biggest change for me.
EG: When did you decide you were taking this job?
MH: The minute Mrs. Kaltman called with the job offer, I said yes.
EG: How do you feel working with the staff here?
MH: It's been wonderful! Everyone has been welcoming, friendly, and I felt that I was included in the community right away.
EG: How does it feel working at a Jewish school, with Rabbis and Judaic leaders?
MH: I think it's awesome. I love learning about different cultures, religions, and people. I am enjoying it thoroughly.
EG: Do you like the size of our school?
MH: Yes, I think it's a perfect size. Not too big or too small. I like that in my classes I have the opportunity to assign group work as they are big enough for that.
EG: What is your proudest accomplishment?
MH: My biggest accomplishment is saving my cats. I saved them from miserable lives and even death and provided them with a good home and new life.
EG: Can you talk about your love for cats?
MH: I’ve always been a cat person. I had a cat since I was little, but my parents gave it away when I was 11 when we found out I was allergic to cats. Ever since then, I’ve been heartbroken. Six years ago I decided I wanted to get a cat. I went to an allergist where the doctor gave me shots and medicine which I continue to take today for my allergy. Once I got my first cat he changed my life. Soon after, one led to two, two led to three, and so on.
EG: What are your hobbies?
MH: In my free time I love to read, write, hike, go to the beach, explore nature, and spend time with my cats.
EG: What is your favorite season?
MH: My favorite season is Fall.
EG: What is the most recent TV show you watched?
MH: The last TV show I watched was The Bear about a man who opens up a restaurant in Chicago and the trials and tribulations he goes through.
EG: Who is your favorite author?
MH: One of my favorite authors is Barbara Kingsolver.
EG: What is your favorite book?
MH: One of my favorite books is The Red Tent written by Anita Diamant.
EG: Thank you so much for your time!
Compiled by: Eliora Gdanski (11th)