2018 Professional Learning Institute

Mindi Heitland

Mindi Heitland is the School-to-Work Internship Coordinator at Waukee High School. Over the past ten years, Mindi has tripled the size of the internship program, and has grown the number of business partnerships to over 75 companies and organizations. With her extensive knowledge of career development and professional skills, Mindi works closely with the Waukee APEX program to help coach students in both college and career pathways. Mindi was elected as the President of the Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators organization, growing the member list to almost 200 members within the last two years. Prior to her School-to-Work position with Waukee Schools, Mindi served as an assistant academic dean and faculty member at a local private college, developing and coordinating the service learning program and career development capstone courses.

Michelle Hill

Michelle Hill is the Director for the Waukee Aspiring Professional Experience (APEX) program with the Waukee Community School District. Michelle is an accomplished educator with over 19 years in business and computer science teaching at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. In addition to administration experience in her current position, she has held the role of dean for academic resources at a private college, as well as started several businesses over the past twenty years. The Technology Association of Iowa recognized Michelle with the Women of Innovation Award for Academic Innovation and Leadership at the Secondary Level in 2010. Michelle was also awarded the Aspirations in Computer Educator Award Winner for the state of Iowa in both 2014 and 2015 from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). Michelle is the past Vice President and current Secretary for the Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators organization. Michelle completed her undergraduate degree in Economics and Business Analysis at the University of Northern Iowa. Michelle also holds a Master of Arts degree in Secondary Education from Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI, and a Master of Arts degree in Administration, Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin.

Holly Showalter

Holly Showalter is the founding lead science instructor for the Waukee Aspiring Professional Experience (APEX) program. Prior to her involvement with APEX, Dr. Showalter worked 13 years in Research & Development at two different companies. She transitioned to education in 2012, taking on the role of AP Chemistry teacher. It was her background in industry, combined with her passion for education, that made her a perfect fit to help develop the APEX program. With her vast network of industry contacts, she has championed numerous projects that leveraged her research background to bring authentic, value-added projects to students. This year, Holly launched the medical and bioscience research course which gives students the opportunity to perform college-level cell culture, PCR, microbiology and spectrophotometry. Holly mentors many aspiring professionals, especially young women, into medical and bioscience workforce opportunities in Iowa. Holly also serves on numerous scientific committees in the community.

Jeff Weld

Jeff Weld is the executive director for the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and associate professor of biology at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Jeff has directed the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council since fall 2011, and the Iowa Mathematics & Science Education Partnership, the Council’s operations arm, since 2008. He has been a member of the UNI biology faculty since 2000. In 2007, Jeff was named the College Biology Teacher of the Year—four-year institutions—by the National Association of Biology Teachers. He has authored more than 55 research articles, essays, book chapters and two books, Building a STEM Culture for Teaching and Learning published in 2017, focused on education systems reform toward STEM, and The Game of Science Education, published in 2004, focused on navigating the barriers to innovative science teaching at the secondary and collegiate levels. He is past president of the Iowa Science Teachers association and of UNI's chapter of Sigma Xi—the scientific research society. Prior to joining UNI, Jeff served on the faculty at Oklahoma State University after earning a doctorate in science education with an emphasis in ecology and endocrinology from the University of Iowa in 1998. Formerly a high school biology and chemistry teacher in Mission, Texas; Kirkwood, Missouri; and Pella, Iowa, Jeff was named the Ciba-Geigy 1993 Life Science Teacher of the Year in Iowa; a 1994 recipient of the Pella Corporation Focus on Teaching Excellence award; and in 1995, one of 50 national Access Excellence Fellows of the Genentech corporation. Jeff serves on several state and national boards including the Board of Directors of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Education Foundation and is a member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society as well as Epsilon Pi Tau the international technology honor society.

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