By Jeremy Burnham
Reporter 

Teacher Profile Series: Lind-Ritzville Middle School math teacher Christina Heater

 
Series: Teacher Profile | Story 4

Last updated 8/8/2019 at 11:18am

When the Lind-Ritzville High School closed for construction, it affected more people than just the students and teachers at the high school. It affected everyone at all the schools in the co-op, including Lind-Ritzville Middle School teacher Christina Heater.

With LRHS closed, the high school moved for one year to the LRMS building in Lind. This meant there was less space for middle school classes, so the co-op had to get creative. Which meant Heater took some kids back to elementary school.

"The sixth graders went back to their respective elementary schools," Heater said. The Ritzville students went back to Ritzville and the Lind students stayed in Lind. They needed a teacher to go down [to Lind] with them, and so I did that."

Heater "team taught" the sixth grade with Lind Elementary School teacher Sarah Dinkins. Heater taught math and science while Dinkins taught english and history.

"Which is great because you don't want me teaching English," Heater said jokingly. "It was wonderful. It was a great experience. [Dinkins] was a good role model who knew the ropes down there because whenever you start at a new school, there are new procedures."


TEACHER SERIES continued on Page 3

If there's one thing Heater is used to, it's starting at a new school. Heater moved to Ritzville after teaching part time at a private school in Idaho. After school starts this September, she will have started at a new school for the third year in a row. She spent her first year in the area at LRMS for the 2017-18 school year. She spent the 2018-19 school year at Lind Elementary and she will now be going back to LRMS for 2019-20.

The change is further amplified by the fact that LRMS will be headed by a new principal this year, as Darrel Lembcke replaces Cindy Deska, who will be moving to the Ritzville Grade School. But change doesn't phase Heater.

"I like [change]," Heater said. "I don't know if I could do a job where I'm doing the same thing over and over. It would get redundant and repetitive."

Heater grew up in the Tri Cities and attended Richland High School. She then started her college education at Columbia Basin College, a community college in Pasco. After graduating from CBC, she transferred to Cascade College in Portland to get her B.S. in education.

Since her days at CBC, she knew she wanted to be a teacher. She didn't know, however, that she wanted to teach math.

"At first I wanted to do music ed," Heater said. "But I had friends who were having trouble in their math class and I would help them. They would say, 'Wow, you do such a good job of explaining that. You should be a math teacher.' That's when I thought, 'You know, it would be easier getting a math teaching job than a music teaching job.' And so I went ahead and switched."

Heater worked as a substitute teacher while her husband finished school. They then moved to Colville, where she continued to substitute from time to time.

During this time she had three children. When the family moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, she got a part time teaching job that she kept for eight years. Her husband then got a job as the manager of the Ritzville Hardware store and the family moved here in 2017.

When asked what her favorite thing about teaching is, she quickly answered without hesitation.

"The kids!" Heater said. "Just working with children. I love working with children, they are so fun. They will come up with ideas you don't think of. Or, when they don't get something, you have to think of something to help them understand it. It's a new day everyday. Each kid is different, so they have different needs."

Heater says she has loved working in the area because she likes the size of both the city and the schools.

"I definitely prefer a smaller classroom," Heater said. "You get to know the kids. You get to know the families, which I think is really important. I would rather have 60 kids to try to get to know than 180."

She likes the small city for similar reasons.

"The people are wonderful," Heater said. "You get to know people and you get to know their families ... There's been some awesome things that my children have been able to be a part of because it's such a small community and you have to try out. If you want to be on a certain team, you're on it. Everyone has a chance to do things if they want to."

Heater also says it's easier to have an impact in a smaller city.

"[In a larger city] there's always someone else stepping in to do all the things, and so you don't really feel you have to do anything," Heater said. "You're able to take a more active role in your community in a small town because you need to."

Heater's three children all attend LRS schools. She said her experience as a teacher has helped her as a parent when one of her children comes home with complaints about a teacher or class.

"I like being able to see things from the teacher's perspective," Heater said. "If one of my children are struggling in a class, or they received a grade they didn't like or something, I can come back with the teacher perspective. I can ask, 'Well, have you talked to your teacher about the grade? Have you asked how you could get a better grade? Did you do what the teacher wanted you to do?' Inevitably, it's, 'No, no, no."

For 2019-20, Heater will teach grades 6-8. School starts on Sept. 3.

Do you know a teacher you would like to see featured in The Journal's Teacher Profile Series? Email Jeremy Burnham at [email protected]

 

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