Ms. Korin Heinz is in her eleventh school year at Fenwick, teaching the French and German languages to Friar students.
What is your educational background?
KH: A master’s in French literature from Northern Illinois University, a bachelor’s in French from Dominican University, and a teaching license in French, German and Spanish. My education included a year living in Strasbourg, France, where I studied at the university, had an internship at a petroleum company, and lived with a bilingual French-German family.
What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?
KH: I’ve been at Fenwick for eleven years, prior to that I taught at Elgin Academy and St. Charles North High School. Before going into education, I worked at Air France and the French-American Chamber of Commerce Chicago. Right after college I worked for the lobbying division of Texas Instruments in Washington, D.C.
What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
KH: For fun, I love historical fiction and biography, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, Wolf Hall, The Woman who Smashed Codes. For serious, I’m reading Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward.
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
KH: I’m an active member of the Alliance Française Chicago and DuPage, and the American Association of Teachers of French. I knit and sew, do ballet, yoga, amateur improv and love spending time with my step-daughters. I hope to start traveling again.
To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?
KH: I belonged to the French and Latin Clubs, was president of the French Honor Society, and did theater and fashion shows. I was involved in youth group and worked at the public library in high school.
Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
KH: French Club. Typical activities have included cooking, movie nights, café conversation, bocce ball, holiday parties, and restaurant outings. I’ve taken student groups to France and hope to again when the pandemic dies down.
What quality/characteristics marks a Fenwick student?
KH: Fenwick students are intelligent and engaged in the world around them. They’re respectful, work hard, and care about society and each other. They’re also committed to education; the distance some come to attend school is impressive. My students are also a lot of fun! It’s never a dull moment with teenagers, and I look forward to seeing them every day.
When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
KH: I decided to become a teacher after working in the business world. I wanted to do something more personally meaningful and remembered positive experiences I had teaching French during a graduate-school assistantship and a grade-school enrichment program. These, along with memories of inspiring teachers (my high school French teacher and the Dominican sisters in college), prompted me to change careers. I love teaching, the connections that are made between students and the subject matter, and between students and teachers and their peers is powerful. Also, sharing this beautiful language (shout out to German, too!) with others is a joy.
What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
KH: Patience, empathy, organization and strong knowledge of my subject matter. Creativity and sense of humor help in difficult times. Last but not least, I’m blessed with a passion for foreign languages and cultures that infuses my teaching.
What are your favorite classes to teach?
What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?
KH: My greatest success has been opening students’ minds to other ways of thinking and being in the world. I want my students to see language acquisition, not only as a way to communicate, but as a way to understand other cultures. I encourage all my students to study abroad in college. You certainly can visit other countries without knowing another language, but knowing a language opens doors and minds. It’s the difference between being a tourist and being a traveler. Also, French is both a means of communication and an art form. I love it when students see the beauty in its structure and hope speaking it will give them joy as well as job skills.
What challenges face students today?
KM: COVID aside, the greatest challenge students face today is a rapidly changing society with little stability. Technology has brought many wonderful opportunities but many dangers as well. It’s made the world smaller and faster without the necessary infrastructure to support those changes. Young people have more power in their devices than they can reasonably handle. I’m glad I’m not a young person today; they have so many pressures that we didn’t have. However, I am so impressed with our students and their energy, optimism, caring and intelligence. I know they will make the world a better place.