The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Lilli Roberts

Computer work Social studies teacher Heather Eckles types on her computer. She started prepping for her next class and graded assignments.

Heather Eckles

Q: Where did you go to high school and could you describe your high school experience?

A: I graduated from Altoona in 1995. I think our student body was about the same size. But it was tenth, eleventh and twelfth. There was a big change from junior high to high school. In the high school there were so many kids in one place that there weren’t any cliques, like you could just belong. I really enjoyed it; I played sports. I played volleyball and softball. It was a good experience; it was a good education. It prepared me for college. 

Q: How have the first few weeks of school gone for you?

A: Really busy. I don’t have it all figured out just yet, but I make a point trying to come to work in a positive mood. It will all come together; I know that it’s just going to take some time. 

Q: If you could describe your new classroom in one word what would it be? 

A: I would say, it’s a mirror of myself. It’s a mirror of myself in the fact I absolutely live and breathe my subject: social studies. For me, it was all about September 11 2001; that event changed the trajectory of my life. 

Q: Could you describe your prior teaching experience?

A: I was a part time instructor at Penn State Altoona for eight years. I also taught part time at Penn Highlands Community College. 

Q: What got you interested in the subject you teach and what was your favorite growing up?

A: Okay so, honestly September 11 had a huge impact on my life; I graduated college, and I didn’t have much knowledge American history. My teachers did a great job in high school, but some things you remember some things you don’t.  I was on a mission; I wanted to know why this happened to our country. … I had no intention of teaching. I never knew what I wanted to do in high school. My favorite subject growing up was history. I had this sixth grade … that was just amazing. 

Q: What brought you to Altoona to teach? 

A: Six years ago my mother died, and I knew I needed to make a change as a single woman. I knew my sisters taught, and my dad is really invested. I went to Saint Mary’s. I live five blocks away … so I knew it was meant to be. I live in Altoona, and I love Altoona. 

Q: What inspired you to become a teacher?

A: It was kind  of by accident; I didn’t mean to become a teacher. Penn State Altoona needed a history instructor, and I happened to need a job. But really I think it’s in the blood. In my family there’s three professions; teachers, plumbers and nurses. … I love teaching because you’re not stuck behind a desk all day. … Interact with kids, hear what you guys have to say, because a lot of the times you guys change my mind. 

Q: Why did you choose to teach high school?

A: Honestly high school because it’s closest to the level I taught before. … Not that younger children aren’t able to do that, they just haven’t been as exposed to older subjects.

Q: What would be a suggestion you have to make AAHS better?

A: I think that the demographic has changed. We built this high school to bring people to Altoona. It has done just that. Now that we’ve done it; we’re resisting it. Native born people need to be more welcoming to the new people. I see that there is definitely a divide between those who were here and those who came here. So we can all be on the same page.

Q: If you could teach another subject what would it be and why?

A: Science, it’s one of those subjects I didn’t care much about when I was younger, but now that I’m older I can see that there’s so much that I don’t know. Science has a way to break things down to understand how it’s connected. The more I learn about the universe I understand, wow it was such a freak accident that we’re here. So, yeah, science. 

Q: What is your go to snack or lunch item to bring with you to school?

A: I want to go local. Boyer Mallow cups. 

Q: If you could choose one fast food restaurant to be in the school cafeteria what would it be and what would you order there?

A: Definitely McDonald’s because it was my first job, and I would have chicken nuggets and vanilla icing.

Q: Who has been the most help to you as you have started this new job?

A: Mrs. Shope and Mrs. Kline. Mrs. Shope is the social studies department teacher, and she is the most organized person and comes to work each day with a positive attitude. Mrs. Kline is my mentor, Kline inspires me to want to do more with our community, and I’ve never seen her without a smile. Those two ladies are positive. 

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