Sierra College professor is Teacher of Year finalist | SierraSun.com

Sierra College professor is Teacher of Year finalist

Katie Fagundes
Special to the Sun
Courtesy Michael Gelbman Program Sponsors Shelly Wright, left, and Charlie Riley, right, congratulate Sierra College Business Professor Kurt Heisinger for his selection as a Teacher of the Year Finalist in this year's program.
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TAHOE/TRUCKEE – The Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year selection committee has selected Sierra College Professor Kurt Heisinger as the first finalist for the Truckee Hometown Sears-Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year.

The selection committee recognized Heisinger’s enthusiasm for teaching and his ability to prepare students for their future jobs. Nominators praised Heisinger for his ability to engage students.

“He brings the discipline alive with real-life situations he has experienced,” wrote one nominator. “He translated dry subject matter into practical know-how for everyday use.”

Heisinger’s commitment to Sierra College’s business program and his students’ mastery of course content make Heisinger stand out as an excellent educator in the Tahoe region. The selection committee was excited to recognize a community college professor as the first finalist.

On Feb. 11, Teacher of the Year sponsors Charlie Riley, owner of the Truckee Hometown Sears; Shelly Wright of Plumas Bank; and Michael Gelbman of the Sierra Sun presented Heisinger with a Finalist Certificate, a $50 Gift Certificate at Truckee Hometown Sears and a $50 Gift Certificate to Mountain Hardware and Sports.

If you would like to nominate a teacher in the community for Teacher of the Year, please email nominations to truckeetahoeteacheroftheyear@gmail.com or drop off nominations at the Hometown SEARS or Plumas Bank in Truckee.

Nominations should include the teacher’s name and school and the nominator’s relationship to the teacher (parent, student, community member). The selection committee encourages nominators to include details and examples describing why their teacher should be selected Teacher of the Year.

Heisinger does not prepare for class by going over the same lecture notes from years past; instead, you will find him printing articles about current events. Heisinger makes sure to find real life examples to connect his students to the content he teaches. Students are not only engaged in class, they are prepared to apply what they have learned in their future work settings.

“(Heisinger) works really hard to ensure we understand the principles and applications of our material,” wrote one student nominator. “I have taken Mr. Heisinger’s business classes for three semesters now and I am certain that because of his teaching I will be a useful asset to any company I work for.”

Heisinger, a California native, grew up in San Jose and attended Cal Poly San Louis Obispo as an undergrad. After receiving a degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting, he returned to Silicon Valley to gain experience working in an accounting firm. Even as an undergrad, Heisinger knew he ultimately wanted to teach, but wanted his own “real life experiences” before starting a career in education.

After 6 years of work experience, Heisinger enrolled into University of California Davis’ MBA program. There he not only focused on his business course work, but paid close attention to his professors’ teaching methods. Heisinger gained additional teaching insight while working as a teacher assistant.

Heisinger went on to teach at American River Community College, UC Davis Summer School and Sierra College, Rocklin Campus. In 1997, he accepted a full time position at Sierra College. When Sierra College opened the Truckee campus in 2008, Heisinger enthusiastically accepted the first full time position at the new campus.

Heisinger currently teaches three accounting courses and intro to business (a survey course). He excitedly describes what Sierra College has to offer its business students. Students now can receive an accounting certificate after completing seven courses.

“Students who come out with the certificate have the accounting skills to get into an entry level position and succeed,” Heisinger said.

Student success in the work place is clearly a goal of Heisinger’s teaching methodology. He makes sure to include current events, personal experiences and specific examples so his students have an idea of what takes place in the “real world.”

“Interaction is imperative in class,” said Heisinger. “Real life, current events, get the students engaged.”

When asked what inspires him as a teacher, he quickly answers “student outcome.” Heisinger hears from students long after their courses are complete. They share with him stories of success. Some accepted into professional schools, some who have started their first full time jobs, and others who have returned to the workforce after being out of work.

“That’s why I do it,” said Heisinger, “those stories.”

In addition to his course load, Heisinger is also the faculty adviser for the Business Club at Sierra College. The club plans activities that help students see firsthand how their studies apply to work in business. In the past, they have visited local business and spoke with businesspeople about the challenges and benefits of small business ownership.