Director, LEARN Center

Co-Director, Wisconsin Teaching Fellows & Scholars

Associate Professor | Biological Sciences

I have been the Center director at UW-Whitewater for just over a year, which has been a challenging time to lead. From a budget crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic to the increasing racial tensions and reckoning rolling across the US, there has constantly been something that seems bigger and more urgent than improving our teaching and learning experiences. Despite this, I have been in awe of my colleagues’ ability to constantly search for a better approach, a better activity, a better assessment. Being able to provide resources and ideas to support this continual quest of “not-yetness” is the most rewarding part for me.

I tiptoed into faculty development work – a workshop, a presentation, facilitating a book group – before jumping in as a Faculty Fellow with our Center. From there, it was a tidal surge to move forward – WTFS co-director and then Center director. As a teacher, I love the interaction with students and I really love trying new things in the classroom. I guess it’s the scientist in me constantly trying and evaluating new possible answers to existing challenges. Moving into professional development allowed me to spend more time searching for new ideas, but also the space to share those ideas with others and promote the work of my colleagues who are doing amazing things.

My time spent with the OPID Advisory Council is crucial in offering me an insight into what is happening beyond my campus, while also being connected to shared wins and challenges within our state System. Being a Center director can be a bit isolating when you’re expected to have all of the answers. The Council provides a space where we can come together and share freely and be heard without being judged. I am incredibly thankful to all of the members of the council for being so generous with their ideas and their support.

Headshot of Heather Pelzel