Credit: Courtesy of Shanley Heller

Pictured above is Shanley Heller, Wayland High School’s new math teacher and department head.

Shanley Heller

How many years have you been teaching and where did you teach before Wayland?
Before Wayland, I taught in Medway for 24 years, and prior to that, I was in Oxbridge for two years. And before that, I had little ones. I was working part time in Millis, then I worked in New York, then I worked in Poughkeepsie and then Pine Plains.

Why did you choose Wayland?
It was really weird because I wasn’t even looking for a job. I was in Medway, and I have a house in Connecticut in the summer, and I was like, “I really would like to just stay here.” So I thought, what if I could get a job closer? What if I could find something in Webster? So I went to SchoolSpring, which is where we get jobs for teaching, and I saw Wayland, which had a teaching and department chair position open, which is what I used to do in Medway. I thought that sounded really exciting and it was really spontaneous. Wayland is the only place I applied to, and it sounded like a great place to be, and it has been so far.

Why did you choose to become a math teacher?
When I was in high school, I couldn’t decide [what I wanted to do]. I left school early and didn’t do my senior year. I was a junior [and at this time, it] was January, and I had to make my decision because I was going to school in the fall. I couldn’t decide because I loved French and I was good at math, [and I was torn between being] a French teacher or a math teacher. My dad [told me that], if I was a math teacher, I would always have a job, [whereas] there are fewer French teachers. So I just went for [the math position] because I would always have a job. But I love math, so it’s been good.

Do you plan on doing anything else at the school like clubs?
At this point, no, because I have so much to do [as the department head]. When I was in Medway, I started a Women in STEM Club with my students, then I became the math advisor and then I became the senior class advisor. I won’t say that I won’t ever [do a school club,] but this first year, I just have to get stuff going.

What are your first impressions of the school?
People are so welcoming, which is very nice and very helpful. The thing that’s the biggest change for me is that this is the first time I’ve ever taught where there’s an open campus. So if a teacher is out, [students don’t have a sub], which is very different, and I think it’s nice. I think it’s a sign of how the students are. It gives [students] a feel for college.

What’s your goal for the year in terms of teaching?
Because it’s my first year teaching in Wayland, a lot of my goal is just getting my feet on the ground. For my students, my goal is for them to understand that they control their learning so that they become the ones who are asking questions because they want to know and know that we’re a team together. It’s more a classroom culture that I focus on. Obviously, I want all of them to learn what they need to do, but mostly, it’s getting that sense that we’re in it together and working together.

Do you have any hobbies you want to share with your students?
I do a lot of crafting and I sew most of my own clothes. I sew a lot and I just got a knitting machine, so I’m really into sewing for quilting, but mostly clothes. I [also] ran some Facebook groups on how to sew. It’s fun for me to create and make. I like that you guys have a makerspace, I love makerspaces and just putting stuff together to be creative.

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