Jim Heithoff has been teaching social studies for the past fifteen years. Winterset has been fortunate to have him as the Junior High seventh grade social studies teacher for the past three years.
Heithoff grew up in Davenport, Iowa. He received his degree in secondary education with a middle school endorsement from the University of Northern Iowa. He taught seventh grade social studies in West Des Moines until the position opened here in Winterset. Heithoff’s wife, Sami, grew up in Winterset so the move was an easy one for their family.
Heithoff was inspired to become a teacher because of his social studies teacher he had in junior high. His teacher made it fun and challenging. “It was through those challenges and exciting environment, where I felt appreciated, I was able to gain self-confidence and develop a love and interest for history,” Heithoff says. These are some of the same things he tries to create in his classroom: a comfortable place to learn where his students feel challenged.
Heithoff’s students study ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and ancient China. They also participate in the National History Day program which is used between units. This national program helps the students learn skills to develop their critical thinking but also teaches them how to transfer skills they learn to other areas. “Most schools use it as a TAG program but in Winterset all seventh grade students participate,” he says.
Technology has been the biggest change Heithoff has seen during his fifteen years of teaching. “Technology has really allowed students to dive into historical research and look up facts left and right using the Library of Congress national archives,” he says. One of the skills they learn while using the internet, for example, is determining accurate sources. “Technology enhances the students deciphering helping them to not just learn facts but decipher sources, authority, and biases,” Heithoff says.
Students will also be working on a new program, Civic Mirror, where they create their own country, government, and economy. This program complies with the civic and economics core within the Iowa Core values.
During the summer months, Heithoff coaches freshmen baseball and little league. He also enjoys time with his wife and three young sons.
What do you like best about Mr. Heithoff?