Rend Lake College has 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.
Heinzmann's name will now be submitted to the Illinois Community College Trustees Association for consideration for their 2019 Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Award.