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Featured Educator: Meet 61-year old Bill Heaning, first-year teacher in Syracuse City Schools

I love the hardest ones the most.

Those are the words of Bill Heaning, a teacher that happens to be 61-years young in the Syracuse City School District. Bill was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York in the 70’s.  His mother passed away when he was 12-years old from Lou Gehrig’s disease, and his father was an alcoholic.  Bill believes that despite his challenges, “I made it, and these kids will make it too.”

I had the pleasure of coaching Mr. Heaning a few weeks ago in his classroom.  After seeing him get 100% of his students engaged at multiple points during his lesson, I assumed he was an experienced educator with 30+ years of practicing the art and science of teaching. When I asked how many years he had been in education, and he replied “One. This is my first year,” I was simultaneously shocked and in awe.

After spending decades working in factories, Bill decided to become a classroom teacher and he is truly a rock star in the making! I learned so much by watching Mr. Heaning navigate through his classroom, deliver instruction and engage with his students. Below are three major take-aways that I got from watching Mr. Heaning teach:

1. He acknowledges the strengths of every student.
•    Mr. Heaning builds momentum by strategically narrating ALL kids at least once during a lesson
•    Shifting from narrating desired behaviors to academic language
•    Narrating “hands in the air” as a form of think-time to increase one volunteer to 15.

2. He believes that deep relationships are the key to success.
•   He checks in with those students whose behavior he finds the most challenging early, frequently and has individual plans as needed.
•   He believes genuinely that all of his kids will make it and he verbalizes this to his students.
•   He smiles, laughs, hugs, dances with (former Disco King), and most importantly – loves his students.

3. He embraces a Growth Mindset.
•    Bill wants to be coached and pushed, despite having high achievement levels.
•    He seeks feedback from his co-teacher and team leader on a regular basis.
•    Bill is humble and believes all of his students can grow on a daily basis.

One week before school started this year, Bill was introduced to the No-Nonsense Nurturer® model.  He implements the 4 steps of the model on a daily basis, and his results speak volumes.  Bill is deeply respected by his colleagues, his administration, his students and their families.

Heavy respect to this first year teacher (at 61-years of age) who is changing lives of the youth in the city of Syracuse on a daily basis.

by William Sprankles, Associate

William is an innovator with a remarkable journey in urban education. He has a dynamic background in which he experienced the strategic change process as teacher, coach, and administrator.

To learn more about No-Nonsense Nurturer, click here!

  • Joe Clayton
    Posted at 16:13h, 26 February Reply

    Bill is the best a great teacher and friend. I’m glad he finally found his calling to bad it took so long.

  • Robert Heaning
    Posted at 15:54h, 27 February Reply

    Can I say”WOW”! Hey Bill, Bobby Heaning here. I’m sitting here in my home in NC reading this and am floored by reading this post! Congradulations on your life changing success as a teacher.. I know you always had a great personality , but that you applied your smarts to achieve such a life altering change of direction, that I’m sure will affect so many as well as yourself , makes me so prud of you. As you know, as a Heaning, I too came from the same background as you and appreciate what you have overcome to achieve such a wonderful new direction.. Your success gives this 57 yr old retiree something to think about. Good luck on your new chosen path in education….;-)

  • Gloria Votra Swanson
    Posted at 02:23h, 28 February Reply

    I know that with your wonderful personality and sense of dedication you would do great.

  • The Truth about No-Nonsense Nurturing - CT3
    Posted at 21:10h, 25 March Reply

    […] read thoughts from these teachers directly on our company Facebook page. Until you walk a mile in these teachers’ shoes, you will never know the joy of having every student engaged, every minute of the day, knowing […]

  • Richard DiPalma
    Posted at 13:13h, 30 April Reply

    Hey Bill,
    Wow- Congratulations-What an obvious fit for your skilll’s. You will positively impact counless young lives to fullfill their full potential. I’m very happy for you and do believe I recomended that career path for you back in back in Captain Walters in 1989 (10%). I’m very happy and proud of you! I’msSure you’re like Robin Williams in the clasroom, Juat stopmaking the Mom’s after school ,could give the wrong impression. Let’s catch up in the near future. I’ll give you a call the week w/i the next week. Hope the familys well and send my love!
    keep on keeping on & love every minute of it -as I’m sure you do)!
    All the best!
    RicHard (Debo)

  • Richard DiPalma
    Posted at 13:16h, 30 April Reply

    Hey Bill- Do you tutor english? I barely use facebook -please forgive lack of responses and format issues.-Rich

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