Heidelberg University softball player Jami Wagner, the Ohio Athletic Conference Scholar Athlete of the Month, has always dreamed of being a teacher.
“Teaching has always been my ideal career path,” said Wagner, an early childhood education and intervention specialist major. “I have always enjoyed helping children learn.”
In her penultimate semester, Wagner is participating in a tutoring program and currently taking a middle childhood education class in an attempt to obtain a fourth- and fifth-grade licensure endorsement. Coupled with her early childhood licensure, the endorsement would allow her to teach kindergarten through fifth grade. Her intervention specialist degree certifies her to teach kindergarten through 12th grade as an intervention specialist.
“I took part in a mentoring program in high school and I was placed in a kindergarten class,” said Wagner. “The cooperating teacher was very helpful and got me involved in her class. She actually let me teach a lesson. It was that experience that convinced me to become a teacher.”
A native of Alvada, Wagner became aware of Heidelberg’s excellent education program while in high school. With plans to stay close to home after graduation, Jami’s decision to attend Heidelberg seemed simple after visiting campus.
“It was close to home and I wanted to continue to play softball,” said Wagner. “When I came for my visit, I toured the education building and saw how the early childhood education classrooms are set up like actual classrooms. I was sold.”
The Heidelberg School of Education, located in the Lavely-Shedenhelm Education Center, refers to its classrooms as labs. The early childhood lab comes complete with a rocking chair, carpet squares and puppets.
Throughout her academic career, Wagner has completed nine placements in local schools as part of her course work.
“As a freshman, I was nervous for my first placement when I had to manage a classroom for the first time,” recalled Wagner. “Since then, I have honed my teaching style by seeing different teaching methods from my professors and cooperating teachers.”
As a representative of the education program, Wagner has been an exceptional student. The New Riegel High School alum has an immaculate GPA at Heidelberg. The prolific center fielder has been named to the Dean’s List every semester, selected to the NFCA All-Academic team three times and named an Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference performer twice.
In 2011-12, Wagner was a member of the team that received national recognition from the NFCA for holding a top 10 team cumulative grade point average. The 2011-12 squad’s grade point average of 3.504 was seventh best in the country.
Sixth-year head coach Betsy Hada holds her team accountable for their performance between the lines and in the classroom.
“Coach Hada preaches academics over softball, which has made me a better student and athlete,”
“Jami is the epitome of a Heidelberg student-athlete,” said Hada, a 2001 Heidelberg graduate. “She is a tremendous leader for the team both on and off of the field.”
Knowing that all of her students, as well as her teammates, are capable of achieving their goals drives Wagner to be a role model.
“Working with different personalities and the different ways that people learn on the field parallels leading a classroom as a teacher,” said Wagner. “Being a leader teaches you that you have to balance personalities and adjust to people’s differences.”
Once she completes her student-teaching experience in the fall of 2014, Wagner will graduate with bachelor’s degree in December. On the diamond, she is poised to become one of the most decorated Heidelberg softball players in program history.
Entering the 2014 season, she is tied for the all-time stolen base record (61), third all-time in hits with 147 and tied for third all-time in triples (8). Wagner will lead the Berg softball team as they open the the 2014 season in Clermont, Fla., on March 8.