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Dr. Janna Heiligenstein, Assistant Professor

"Every course has a strong emphasis on putting theory into practice and expects you to be reflective on your site experiences in relation to the course learning. If you keep up with it all (or even start a bit ahead), you will do well."

Degrees Held:

  • PhD — University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010

Career Highlights:

My first degree was in International Relations, with a strong emphasis in history and economics. After a brief stint in the commodity world, I decided I was much more suited to a career helping others and became a history and ESL teacher. I have taught every grade from PreK-12, with kindergarten and high school being among my favorites. After teaching for a number of years, I became an administrator and ran the Bilingual and ESL programs for the Madison Metropolitan School District as well as other districts in Wisconsin. Other districts I have worked in include Beaufort County (high schools) in South Carolina and Fairfax County Schools in Fairfax, VA, where I was in charge of the Early Childhood/Kindergarten ESL programming for approximately 10,000 students. After 23 years in public education, and adjunct teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, WI and George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, I decided to become a full time professor here at Fitchburg State University, as well as Chair of the Educational Leadership and Management Programs. I'm passionate about high-quality education for all students and bring a lens of cultural proficiency and social justice to all of my courses

In which online program do you teach?

M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Management

In what ways do you connect with online students?

I have used a variety of programs in my courses. Here at Fitchburg State we use Blackboard as our main platform, but we also use Zoom, and I have even been known to make use of a private Facebook group to better facilitate discussions. It all depends on the course and my students.

What advice would you give to your online students?

These courses are intense and in 7 weeks have to cover what would normally be covered in 15 weeks. There is usually no time to cover what the readings cover, so professors expect you to do all the readings. They will not usually lecture exactly what is covered, so your final products will need to reflect your learning from any lectures, the readings and incorporate your site experiences. Every course has a strong emphasis on putting theory into practice and expects you to be reflective on your site experiences in relation to the course learning. If you keep up with it all (or even start a bit ahead), you will do well. Make sure to communicate very early with your instructors if you have any issues or questions.

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