Alumni Profiles

Recent graduates are currently teaching in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona, Kentucky and Hawaii in addition to all areas of Ohio.

Zaia ThombreZaia Thombre '10

Zaia has had many experiences to apply the skills she learned at Heidelberg. Her first experience was as an AmeriCorps *VISTA through Ohio Campus Compact. She worked with nonprofit leaders in Ohio and West Virginia to build capacity within their nonprofits and helped them connect to share resources. Zaia built the Mid-Ohio Valley Nonprofit Initiative, and was responsible for organizing workshops and conferences. Her position was so successful that it later turned into a permanent grant-funded position at Marietta College.

"Although teaching is my ultimate passion, I wanted to spend a year giving back to my community in a different field. I knew I could do it because my professors encouraged me to do leadership activities and that really came into play as a Nonprofit Capacity-Building Coordinator."

After finishing her *VISTA experience, Thombre joined Teach For America and was placed in the Mississippi Delta to teach elementary math. Thombre mentioned, "Initially, when I found out I was placed in the Mississippi Delta, I was nervous. But, I knew that my professors had given me the knowledge and skills that I needed to succeed." And, succeed she did. Thombre was able to raise her students' test scores dramatically, surpassing the school's average. Additionally, during her second year of teaching she wrote a grant to build a playground for her school and was able to secure the grant and an additional $25,000.

Thombre is currently starting her Master's in Education Policy through the #1 ranked education graduate program, the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt. "When I told my professors that it was my goal to get into Vanderbilt, they made it their personal goal to help me. I love Heidelberg because not only could my professors speak to my academic abilities, they were also able to showcase my leadership abilities--and I truly think that made all the difference," Thombre said.

Thombre claims, "I would not be where I am today without the Heidelberg professors. They taught me how to be courageous and how to follow my dreams. The best part is that I know I can (and still do!) rely on them when I need advice. They are truly family to me." Thombre mentioned that the best part about the Heidelberg education program was the chance to visit other cultures like the service-learning trip to Mexico, the relationships built with not only professors but the cooperating teachers at the school, and the ability to observe in a classroom from day one.

Justin Badik, ’03, and Kristie Badik, ’04

Justin and Kristie BadikAt Heidelberg, Justin was an Adolescent to Young Adult Education and History double major; Kristie was an Early Childhood Education major with reading teacher licensure. Justin now teaches eighth grade American history at Perrysburg (Ohio) Junior High, and Kristie teaches second grade at Vine Street Elementary School in Clyde, Ohio.

Both Justin and Kristie have been teaching full time since graduating from Heidelberg. Justin has also attended school-sponsored conferences, taken one graduate course and passed the Praxis III exam. Likewise, Kristie has attended school and district-wide conferences, a behavior conference and a Lucy Calkins reading conference. She passed the Praxis III exam and received her 5-year license and plans to represent her school at technology conferences and begin a master’s program.

Justin and Kristie credit Heidelberg’s education program with preparing them well for their teaching careers. They specifically noted that field placements (from the time the program begins), preparation for Praxis III, accelerated classes, the study of Academic Content Standards/lesson planning and mock job interviews as the aspects of the program they valued most. Kristie even said, “I was fully prepared for my Praxis III assessment and knew that I would pass.”

Heidelberg’s education program also offered Justin and Kristie advantages other schools could not. As Justin explained, “Heidelberg afforded me more real-life classroom experience than other schools.” Justin found the opportunities that Heidelberg gave him to “get out in a real classroom and teach” invaluable. Kristie shared a similar sentiment: “Heidelberg by far has the best education program and really prepares students to be teachers. I am confident in my teaching skills and abilities and was not nervous at all to get my first teaching job.”

Alisa Trizna, ’04

Alisa teaches first grade at Moyock Elementary School in Moyock, North Carolina, where she also serves as a grade level representative.

On top of Alisa’s full-time teaching responsibilities she has continued her education by pursuing a number of professional development opportunities, including taking a Comprehension in Primary Grades master’s course at Heidelberg, attending a K-2 Writer’s Workshop and a Best Practices Conference and taking an About the Authors online course through Heinemann University. She is also taking graduate courses at Old Dominion University.

Alisa noted that her motivation to participate in these activities is a result of her Heidelberg education: “Since the education program at Heidelberg taught me so much about reaching a variety of children, it gave me the desire to continue to pursue my education and in turn improve my students’ education.”

She also praised the Education Department’s field placement, especially the fact that education majors gain field experience in their first year…experience that is built upon throughout their years at Heidelberg: “As your knowledge of teaching increases, so does the time that you are in the field. The education professors make sure that each student is involved with a variety of grade levels within your licensure area.” Such involvement gave Alisa the practical experience she needed and impressed her mentor during her first year of teaching.

In addition to Alisa’s praise of the Department’s field placement, she recognized Education Department faculty members for their care and involvement: “I always knew that if I had any questions, problems, was in need of ideas or support I could count on them for guidance. The education professors are even there for you after graduation. I have contacted my previous professors a number of times for both professional and personal reasons. They are not only your teachers but also a support system.”

Alisa found Heidelberg’s inviting and nurturing environment – within the Education Department and throughout campus – integral to her self-development. “There are countless opportunities that students can be involved in. I grew as an individual because of these valuable opportunities that were offered and attribute my success to them,” she said. “To this day, I miss the welcoming community that Heidelberg offered me and am grateful that I was lucky enough to be a part of it.”