Why I Teach, Brooke VanHecke


Written by: Jaedyn Roberts, Reporter

When Brooke VanHecke was in high school, she had a social studies teacher who she admired for her love of her content, the things she did for her students and who she was as a person. This teacher inspired VanHecke to choose teaching as her own career, and today, VanHecke is an English teacher with a love for her students and her job.
VanHecke enjoys spending time in the classroom with her students. As an outgoing person who likes to be around others, she feels at home with her students and colleagues. In fact, the students are what keeps VanHecke coming back each year.

For her especially, student relationships take on a new meaning; she has taught many of her students for years. Since she was formerly a teacher at Basehor-Linwood Middle School, she now gets to see and teach former students a second time around. She values the fact that she gets to stay in touch with students she has formerly taught as well as getting to meet a new class each year. Teaching is fully a job where VanHecke feels she belongs.

“I think what keeps me in teaching is because I don’t leave my days wondering if I’m doing the right thing…I think education is where I’m meant to be,” said VanHecke. “Sometimes it’s just a feeling, like when you have a bad day and you know that you’re coming back, and that you want to come back. I never drive to school not wanting to walk into those doors–it’s huge. That’s a big thing.”

VanHecke finds value in that teaching allows her to challenge herself, but there are also external challenges that come with the job. Teaching goes beyond the classroom, because students’ lives outside of school blend with what they show academically.

“Some of the added pressures of being a teacher, you just can’t prepare somebody for because everybody’s experiences will be different,” said VanHecke. “If somebody has something going on outside of school and does impact the academic classroom, you know, there’s no one good way of dealing with it. You have to take it situation, case by case. So, I think that probably the hardest thing to do is not being able to control things or fix things for students. I think that’s definitely something I deal with every day; that you want to just make it easier and fix things.”

As students leave VanHecke’s classroom, she wants them to leave as better people than when they first stepped in; to see that they have grown in some way over the course of her class. This can manifest itself in different ways, like spending the extra time to give meaningful feedback on assignments. Most of all, she hopes they can carry with them real-life lessons from her English curriculum.

“I would want them [students] to say that I feel like I can go out into the world and think critically and empathize with people,” said VanHecke. “I’ve left understanding that the world is a better place, maybe, than I think it is, and that I can be nicer than I thought I could be, and I can understand people better than I thought I could.”