The teachers and staff members at St. Paul Preparatory share a love of cultures and education. We come from diverse backgrounds and share our unique talents and experiences with our school community. We truly care about our students and take joy in helping them reach their full potential.
Meet Kelly Heitz from our World Languages Department.
Faculty Profile, Kelly Heitz
Language Department, Arabic and Spanish
- Favorite movie: The Thin Man – and the sequels
- Favorite book: Always changing, currently World War Z and This is How You Lose Her
- Favorite color: Purple
- Favorite food: Seafood
What’s something cool about Arabic and Spanish?
Languages are exciting because they are all about communication. While a lot of teachers have to work on getting students to STOP talking about their daily lives, experiences, and opinions – I am constantly encouraging and facilitating personal discussions. I want my students to talk! (just in the target language)
You always have to be alert when learning and using languages, because the meaning is created between two people in particular circumstances. You can’t just memorize a bunch of words; you need to figure out how to best organize them to convey meaning and what to do if someone doesn’t immediately understand. There is a ton of negotiation involved in the process and it requires flexibility. I like that communicating is an imperfect and ever-changing world.
What do you do when you’re not working at SPP?
I really love getting outside. My favorite thing about Minnesota is the varied seasons. In the winter, you can find me snowshoeing at local parks or downhill skiing. In the summer I love biking and spending time up north with my parents and little sister.
Where is the best place you’ve ever lived or visited and why?
This question is too hard. My favorite city that I have traveled to was Damascus, Syria. I loved the ancient streets and buildings, the covered markets that have been around for hundreds of years, and the hospitality of the people. I’ve met nice and welcoming people everywhere I have been, but every Syrian we met was generous and helpful without exception.
If you could give one piece of advice about life, what would it be?
Be open to experiences that are not what you planned. Flexibility and embracing opportunities has led me places I never thought I would go.
What’s something you’re planning to do this school year?
Read an entire novel/chapter book with my Spanish 1 class. I’m also planning some after school trips for Journalism club!
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
I would do an extended vacation that started in Spain and then hopped down to Morocco. Despite having visited numerous airports in Europe on my way to the Middle East, I’ve never been able to visit a single European country. I think the Spain dialect of Spanish is so interesting, and would love to become more familiar with it. I also can’t understand the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, so that would be a great adventure. Moroccan Arabic has strong French, Amazigh, and Spanish influences, and is actually subtitled on Arabic news stations because it is so different from Modern Standard Arabic.
Basically I would talk to everyone and eat a lot of good food, which is my formula for a quality trip.
If you weren’t teaching, what job would you want?
I sometimes wish I studied Computer Science. I think I would really love to learn programming languages and perhaps work on the design side of software in a client-oriented role. I’ve taken a couple of online courses and really enjoyed it. We all use technology in so many ways and I’m so dependent on other people’s creations; I would love to be a part of making the tools that everyone uses. (I also genuinely miss math class – it was one of my favorites during high school, but I didn’t take any further math after AP Statistics)
Have you ever experienced culture shock? When and how did you deal with it?
I have! After my freshman year of college, I studied abroad in Lebanon in a small program in the mountains. We didn’t receive any orientation, so we really didn’t know what to expect. Both hilarity and also some scary situations ensued. For example: we didn’t know that our water at our apartment was rationed. There are tanks on the roof in Lebanon (and many other countries) that hold your weekly water supply. When it is gone, that is it unless you buy more from a water truck. Our water kept running out and we had no idea why. That first time, I didn’t deal with it very well. I came home early after deciding I no longer felt safe.
My second time abroad though, in Jordan, I felt I knew much better what to expect. Even then, I would feel out of place every once in a while and miss home. In these cases, living with a very kind home stay family helped a lot. They gave me a lot of advice and helped me navigate the culture. They also were supported me when things were confusing or frustrating.
Tell me something interesting or unique about yourself.
I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and used to compete in alpine skiing (downhill) races.