A longtime Litchfield Public Schools volunteer, whose many projects include assert-iveness training for special education students, is the winner of the school district’s 2010 Friend of Education Award. Brian Heuring won the annual award after he was nominated by three teachers for his extensive volunteer work in the district’s elementary school classes. “Many have been touched by this man’s helpfulness and integrity,” said Cheryl Whitchurch, one of the nominating teachers.
Heuring’s own school days were in the Litchfield Public Schools system so he is giving back to his alma mater. He loves his volunteer duties, which are varied. “With the third graders, I usually help out with things like craft projects,” he said. “With the kindergarteners, I mostly play games with them.”
“The teacher always says, ‘Listen to Brian. He knows what he’s talking about.’ At least somebody’s on my side,” Heuring said with a laugh. “I think I’ll make a T-shirt with that written on the back.”
“In addition to his helpfulness in the classroom, Brian has volunteered for several years in Ripley Elementary’s Thumbs Up after-school program,” said Whitchurch. “Thumbs Up uses a Mega Skills curriculum to strengthen social skills such as responsibility, respect, caring, teamwork, perseverance, and effort. Brian teaches by example as he naturally models the Mega Skills in all of his interactions with students and staff.”
When asked by one of the teachers on the award selection committee why it was important to him to volunteer, Heuring replied simply, “I like to help people.” His mother, Sharon, who was listening nearby said, “Short and sweet, just like his father.” His father is deceased.
Heuring’s volunteer work includes presenting an assertiveness training for a special education class at the high school. The training was developed by St. Paul-based Advocating Change Together (ACT), with whom Heuring has been connected for many years in learning the skills of self-advocacy and now passing those skills along to others. “Brian is a great leader for the self-advocacy movement,” said ACT co-director Mary Kay Kennedy. “He does a ton of preparation before leading a training. I’m sure he brings that same level of professionalism to the volunteer work in the schools.”
“I was really proud to get this award,” said Heuring, who was honored at the school district’s annual year-end breakfast in June. As part of the recognition, Heuring also rode on a float in the annual Litchfield Watercade parade July 12, with school district staff walking alongside.