Heyel and Peck Bring Teaching Experience from Woodbury Middle School


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Social studies teacher Jeremy Heyel, left, and music teacher Abigail Peck joined the Nonnewaug faculty this year after having previous experience at Woodbury Middle School.

Phoebe Criscuolo, Reporter

Jeremy Heyel and Abigail Peck are among the new additions to the Nonnewaug High faculty this year. Their arrivals at the high school are unique because both teachers have previous experience at Woodbury Middle School. Heyel, a social studies teacher, and Peck, a musical arts teacher, recently discussed their arrivals at Nonnewaug and more.

Why did you choose to teach at Nonnewaug?

Heyel: When I worked at Woodbury Middle School in 2019 as a long-term substitute, I quickly realized how great Region 14 schools are. It’s an excellent district with amazing people — kids and adults alike. When the social studies position here at Nonnewaug opened up this June, I jumped at the chance to return to the district. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be offered the position.

Peck: I chose to teach at Nonnewaug, and Region 14 as a whole, because I grew up going to school in this district, and when I moved back to Connecticut, I looked for a job in my hometown.

How different is it from teaching at the middle school?

Heyel: Much of how I teach is similar between middle and high school: I like to get kids excited about history and social studies, but more importantly about learning in general. I still get excited about absorbing new information and try to relay that excitement to students. However, high school teaching allows for much deeper thinking about subjects. Students are starting to think like adults and I really love those conversations.

Peck: Students are much more mature at the high school level. I enjoy hearing that maturity in their musical voices and their intellectual thoughts.

How long have you been teaching?

Heyel: I’ve been teaching in various capacities for about three years, although I actually began my teaching journey way back in the olden days — the ’90s — when I earned my certification. Life took me in another direction, however, and I spent many years in the business world as a corporate trainer. I was fortunate to use the same skills I learned in college — just in a different setting. My return to teaching several years ago really was the right timing and I’m thrilled to be back!

Peck: I have been a public school teacher since 2006 and I have been teaching private music lessons for 22 years.

Why did you decide to teach?

Heyel: When I was in college and learning “the ropes” of being a teacher, I liked the idea of sharing knowledge with kids — to get them interested in social studies. However, a few years and some more gray hair has changed my perspective a bit, and it’s really all about my earlier comment about getting kids excited about learning. Having the desire to expand our own knowledge — to be curious, to dig deeper — is the key to success in life. More than anything, that’s the big picture that I want students to walk away with.

Peck: I have always been passionate about music and sharing that gift with others. I also had some very influential teachers in my life. Music education is so important in the lives of young people, actually to people of all ages.

What is the funniest thing a kid has said or done in your class?

Heyel: I won’t say because said kid might be reading this right now.

Peck: There have been countless funny memories with students. I once had a student close their eyes while singing and get really into the song. Unfortunately, when I cued the remaining students to stop singing, the student with their eyes closed kept right on singing — loudly, too!

What is your most embarrassing teaching moment?

Heyel: Sadly, this has happened more than once: walking into the wrong classroom, ready to teach, and not realizing right away that I didn’t know a single student. I always figured it out before I actually started the class, but it certainly was awkward up until then.

Peck: I think I would say it was my first year teaching. I was at a high school moving to another classroom, when I completely fell down a half flight of stairs. It wasn’t cute, and let’s just say I was carrying a whole bunch of sheet music and CDs at the time. My stuff went flying everywhere. Plenty of students to watch me — good times!