Photo above courtesy of The Smoke Signal Online, Newspaper of Minnechaug Regional High School.
Ms. Heidi Drawec felt scared. All summer, it was just her, principal’s secretary Mrs. Vicky McDonald, and the custodians in the school while she adjusted to a new school. Now, on the first day of school, it was swarming with students and teachers. The feeling of being new, unsure, and having to rely on observation and asking questions was unfamiliar to her. “Having to say I don’t know the answer is different,” she said. However, her feeling of fear quickly faded as she felt embraced by the “welcoming environment” of Longmeadow High School.
Ms. Drawec is the new Assistant Principal at LHS this year, replacing Mr. Paul Dunkerley. After graduating from Western New England University, she started student teaching at Minnechaug Regional High School, where she worked up until this year. There, she first taught English, transitioned to Dean of Students, and later Assistant Principal.
Sitting for an interview with the Journalism class in September, Ms. Drawec explained that she did not enjoy English in high school, and entered Hartwick College as a criminal psychology major. It was when a professor read her paper in front of the class and was impressed with her writer’s voice that she became interested in the subject. Upon returning to her home in Palmer, MA, to take care of her sick mother, Ms. Drawec enrolled in WNEU. The school had not yet offered criminology degrees, so she declared English and Secondary Education as her major, where she found a love for teaching.
When asked about her return home and transfer of schools, Ms. Drawec said that there is a reason for the curveballs that life throws at people. “I do believe that what is meant for you will not pass by you.”
Despite her many years as Assistant Principal at Minnechaug, she said, “I miss being in the classroom. I miss the students who had the ‘aha!’ moment in my room.” She is passionate about student leadership. Since she has stopped teaching professionally, she helps younger people by speaking to high schools and local community groups, including the Massachusetts Association of Student Councils, about being a changemaker and ways that one can make the world a better place.
At Minnechaug, Ms. Drawec’s position consisted of planning events, awards, and field trips; assisting with accounting; and, of course, working with student groups. She found her transition to Longmeadow to be easier than expected: her role is similar, and the school itself shares similarities with Minnechaug, such as the population and abundance of student activities.
She shared how her role as assistant principal might be perceived by students. “I think that most students look at me and think I am trying to get them in trouble as an administrator,” she said. But she wants the best for Longmeadow students, and says that she “has an open door” and is “always here for you.”