Fran Heckman’s first and only teaching job was at Waupaca High School.
She began teaching family and consumer education (FACE) in August 1971 and retired after this school year was completed.
As a teacher, Heckman enjoyed watching the creativity and self-expression of her students when they worked on projects.
It was her own high school home economics teacher, Cheryl Mains, who inspired her to become a FACE teacher.
“She was just an inspiration. She was a role model. We stayed good friends afterward and kept in touch,” Heckman said.
Heckman was raised on a farm with her nine siblings. She attended a country school in rural Waupaca and after her family moved to rural Iola, attended school in the Iola-Scandinavia School District, graduating from high school there.
She credits her parents, Frank and the late Patricia Bauer, with teaching her and her siblings a strong work ethic and about taking care of others.
After high school, Heckman went to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in home economics. In 1993, she received a master’s degree in education from Viterbo University.
She taught at three different locations of Waupaca High School and was an adviser for Future Homemakers of America for 25 years.
Heckman and her husband, Steve, live in rural Clintonville, and since 1978, she had commuted to the high school with Cheryl Carter, who is the high school librarian.
She will miss her conversations with Carter, as well as teaching with Ronda Gustke and Ann Schwalenberg.
Heckman said they were a good team – sharing space, items and using each others ideas.
What she enjoyed about teaching FACE were the different areas incorporated into it, such as child development, family and relationships, food, interior design and career education.
“It’s such a nice variety. It’s living skills. You can learn about improving your life,” she said. “It’s hands-on. It’s fun. We try to focus on healthy lifestyles and making good choices.”
The name of the class may have changed through the years, from domestic science to home economics to family and consumer education, and now to family and consumer science.
She said they constantly updated the content of the class to keep up with changes in the world.
Keeping up with the changes in technology were most challenging to her.
Heckman said there were good resources in the community, whether for field trips or for people who could come in and talk to the students about particular careers or other topics.
In addition to her many years of teaching at Waupaca High School, she has also taught religious education classes to first-grade students at St. Rose Parish in Clintonville and after her retirement, plans to do a lot of reading, crafting, traveling and volunteering, either at an elementary school or at Head Start.
She also enjoys gardening and walking.
Her husband works part time as a private forester. Their daughter, Karin, is an assistant professor of biology at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., and their son, Andrew, is a mechanical engineer at Seagrave Fire Apparatus in Clintonville.
Heckman said she enjoyed teaching at Waupaca High School, saying it was a beautiful place in which to work.
She is appreciative of the co-workers she had and also liked the mental stimulation of teaching – always thinking about interesting ideas to share with her students.
It is her hope that she passed on these lessons to her students, “Eat right. Make sure you exercise. Be kind and use your talent to the best of your ability – I think that’s really important. Be grateful for your blessings. And, I think it’s important to share – your talent and your time.”