INA, IL (April 10, 2019) - Rend Lake College is pleased to recognized Brenda Heinzmann as the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Member. She was nominated by peers for her dedication and genuine demonstration of exceptional teaching, as well as her enthusiasm and engagement with her students.
With over 35 years in the educational system, Heinzmann began her career in early childhood education, teaching preschool and kindergarten for 18 years. She then became the Assistant Director and the first preschool teacher at RLC’s brand new Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center. She was instrumental in developing this state-of-the-art center and in providing a high quality, hands-on practicum experience for the college’s early childhood students.
Heinzmann was quickly promoted to the full-time director of the center, where her ambition and hard work led the facility to becoming NAEYC accredited, as well as a recipient of the Preschool for All grant. During this time, she also served as an adjunct instructor for four years until she transitioned to a full-time faculty position for the college’s Education and Early Childhood Education program.
Due to Heinzmann's dedication and efforts toward student success, her ECE students do not have to go any further than the Rend Lake College campus for "hands-on" experience in their curriculum lab and child care facility. In addition to traditional instruction on campus, Brenda accommodates the hectic schedules of many of her students by delivering content in both online and hybrid formats. She devotes hours not only in the classroom, but also in the RLCFCC and other practicum sites to validate the competencies of her students.
“Over the years Brenda has worked with local programs to continue to provide early childhood classes to centers that could not, for many reasons, afford to send staff to traditional classes,” states Susan Thomas, director of Logan Street Day Care and Preschool Center. “Brenda’s vision to try hybrid classes and self-study online classes has helped my center tremendously.”
Thomas continues “Brenda has been such a wonderful and positive force for the Rend Lake College Early Childhood Education Program for 20 years. She also has been a great cheerleader for a profession, that unfortunately, is still trying to prove to society how important early childhood developments. It is much more than babysitting children.”
Current RLCFCC Director, Brooke May, recalls her time as an ECE student observing Heinzmann's interaction with preschoolers, "I want to be a teacher like Miss Brenda." May continues with high praise of Heinzmann, "She is truly one-of-a-kind and inspires her students to be the best they can be. It’s now close to 20 years ago since I was her student, and I can still remember many of her lectures and assignments. She had that much of an impact with me."
Heinzmann also reaches out in the community by recruiting, attending career fairs, conducting tours of the ECE program, and visiting area child care centers to promote Rend Lake College as an exceptional higher education institution.
The words of her Early Childhood Education students show just how impactful Heinzmann has been inside the classroom.
“Brenda taught me that I could be anything I set my mind to. Brenda has always set high expectations for her students and encourages them to strive to do their best. Brenda is an inspiration to me and the rest of her students because she never gives up and finds a way to help anyone in need. Her drive and passion for education shows.” -Nichole Martie (Pinckneyville)
“When I first began the ECE Program, I thought Brenda was a really tough instructor. However, by the time I made it to the end of the program I realized Brenda had been trying to push me to my full potential, and that's exactly what she did. She saw strengths in me that I didn't know I had. The world needs more teachers like Brenda.” -Rebecca Clark (Mt. Vernon)
“Brenda Heinzmann has been the toughest teacher I have ever had. Because of that, she has been my most influential teacher. She pushed me to be the best student I could be. She challenged me to always go one step further. She showed me different ways to look at challenges. Most of all she reminded me to have fun while teaching my kiddos. I still hold myself to the high standards she expected of me. Because of Brenda Heinzmann's guidance, I was prepared for my career in ECE. Thank you, Brenda, for being so tough on me. You helped turn me into an amazing teacher. -Chrissy Confer (Sesser)
Heinzmann’s name will now be submitted to the Illinois Community College Trustees Association for consideration for their 2019 Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Award.