Assignment: Education - WAPS Celebrates 150 years

Published On: Nov 09 2010 11:44:47 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 09 2010 11:44:00 AM CST

Mr. Heise has a long history with the Winona Public School District.

"This is my 44th year," said David Heise, Winona Senior High School math teacher.

Teaching high school math for the District was his very first job out of college.

"I was here the first full year when the building was... the building had opened in the previous year but that next year it was like coming into a brand new place... holy Cow... it was something," said Heise.

The current Winona High School opened in 1967, and at that time Heise's classroom looked a little different than it does today.

"When I started I had a huge slide rule across the top of one of those boards, and I had to teach use of the slide rule as ways we could calculate some things," said Heise.

Now at that moment, my interview with Mr. Heise slowed down for some additional questioning, because using something called a slide rule to do calculations just didn't add up for me.

"Have you ever heard of the slide rule," asked Heise, followed by lots of laughter.

After my admission of not ever having seen a slide rule in class, Mr. Heise's history within the district was apparent. And he adds the use of technology has been by far the biggest change in education.

"The math changes a lot in that you have to present things so that the graphing calculator can be learned," said Heise.

While Mr. Heise's story began with the opening of a new high school in 1967, the district's story began more than 100 years before that when the Minnesota State Legislature established a school district in Winona. Soon after, built the very first school. It was Central School, in 1867, on the corner of Broadway and Market Streets.

"Education, right from the very beginning, has been really valued in this community," said Scott Hannon, Winona Area Public Schools superintendent.

And because of this community support, the superintendent of Winona Area Public Schools says it's important to have the community help the district celebrate their sesquicentennial.

"It's kind of a milestone," said Hannon. "It's a nice big round number. You look back and say whoa... 150 years ago there were steamboats going by on the river and there were still native Americans camped within the city limits. So, the times have changed, but the delivery of the education... the quality of education, I think, has stayed stead fast. And I think our community cherishes that."

Some would say that one of the reasons the quality of education has held steady in Winona is because of teachers like Mr. Heise whose dedication to sharpening a student's skills hasn't wavered.

"The reason I'm in this room right now, and not out at the Y playing racquetball, is I really love what I'm doing," said Heise. "And the reason I love it is I love being with the students."

"I think education is extremely important," said Hannon. "So, I think the community is going to celebrate with us, and they understand that we're very important part of the community because most of our people live here and work here and a lot of the kids are going to stay here."

And it's this type of commitment to the community and education that the district was founded on. And administrators feel that's something to celebrate together.