Kinderbooks' Spotlight on Remarkable Teachers: Kirsten Heckes

 Kirsten Hecker Founder Kinder Alchemy

We’ve heard over and over again how these are “extraordinary times”. How important it is to be able to change and evolve to meet a new socially distanced world. A world where meetings, lessons and gatherings happen over Zoom or other online platforms.

Especially in the world of education, being able to adapt is a crucial part of reaching your students. Teachers are pivoting their lessons at breakneck speed, meeting their students where they are. For many, it feels like they’re working harder than ever to connect with their students. But teachers are still finding plenty of creative ways to make a difference.

We’ve seen remarkable things from teachers during this time . They’re making smart use of resources in our Kinderbooks online shop and changing the game, teaching their students via virtual platforms using authentic educational resources like native children’s books, movies, audiobooks and more. We’d like to introduce you to one of these teachers.

This teacher’s work brought her to Kinderbooks, and now the resources she’s finding are helping her make a difference in the lives of her students. Even during a global health crisis, this teacher is engaging students and boosting their language skills.

Meet Kirsten Heckes

German Teacher Kirsten Heckes

Despite not initially setting out to become an educator, Kirsten Heckes is an all-star teacher. She was born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany, and holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Germany.

Having lived and worked in the United States for over 30 years, Heckes is a native German speaker who worked for years in the entertainment industry, but felt a calling to attend a university here in the states to provide a quality education for young people.

Kirsten spent two years at Santa Monica College, where she graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in early childhood education with a State of California Master Teacher permit, fully prepared to open her own daycare center.

But there were bigger plans in store for Kirsten, who unexpectedly was accepted into Loyola Marymount University on almost a full scholarship. As Heckes puts it, “After three years and many unforgettable experiences,” she graduated with an honors degree in psychology and a minor in German.

Following her education at Loyola Marymount, Kirsten worked in a German immersion school, where she truly fell in love with teaching. She worked as an instructional assistant and then taught first and third graders. This proved to be the inspiration for her next calling: “During this time, it became very clear to me that the need for out-of-the-box learning experiences for children was very much needed.”

To fill this gap and meet the needs of her community, Kirsten started an after-school tutoring program and created a few camps, all with an emphasis on deepening children’s grasp of German and inspiring their love for the language.

Heckes founded Kinder Alchemy LLC, an educational center with a committed focus on providing a trusting and safe learning environment. It is here that Heckes has opened doors for students to learn and explore the German language and culture with fervor and enthusiasm.

Kinder Alchemy

Heckes’ classes offer students a structured, routine learning program that is focused on follow-through, which keeps German language learners on track and actively progressing in their language skills.

How She’s Adapting

How is Kirsten shifting her work to connect with students even in the middle of a pandemic? As Heckes said, “COVID-19 has changed our lives in so many ways, … but it hasn’t changed our desire to learn, explore and share our knowledge.”

Kids still want to learn. They miss their classrooms and the exciting lessons they receive in person. They are craving new information. But to reach them on platforms like Zoom? You need to find creative ways to present educational content in virtual classroom settings.

Heckes’ work during a time of virtual learning and social distancing has truly impressed us. Why? She is finding educational German materials via Kinderbooks and using them to their full potential. With these engaging, unique resources, Heckes has been able to expand her tutoring process—even in the midst of a recession—and now she is teaching her students on Zoom.

Think about it: Kids are picking up all kinds of new hobbies and skills during the pandemic. What better time to hone their language skills than during this period of staying home?

Connect With Us to find the right books for your students

At Kinderbooks, our goal has always been to inspire the minds of young German Language Learners, and that remains more true now than ever before. Make the most of your lessons with our wide array of fun, exciting and educational children’s books.

Ask us about resources, books or materials to support your classroom work, your curriculums or reading recommendations for your students. We are here to help! Together we will find the right supplement materials for your German Language Experience or just browse here.


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