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Eastern Christian is pleased to welcome Heather Westra as high school English teacher.

Westra earned a bachelor’s in Literature and Creative Writing from Ramapo College and a master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. She taught at various universities before she felt called to teach at Eastern Christian School. Passionate about literature, poetry and teaching, Westra hopes she can inspire her students to be better writers, better readers, and stronger critical thinkers. When she isn’t teaching, you can find her writing stories, hiking with her rescue pitbull, or snowmobiling in the Adirondacks.

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in Wayne, New Jersey with Christian parents and attended public school. My friends and cousins attended Eastern Christian and I knew all about the excellence of the school. It seemed fate to me that through mutual friends, I would marry Justin Westra–an alumnus of Eastern Christian–and that a few years later, I would be hired by the school I felt I knew so well despite having never attended. When I’m not working, I love to read and to write. I love being in nature, whether it is hiking, sitting by a lake or ocean, snowmobiling, or exploring new places. I am invested in the arts and also love exhibits, poetry readings, museums, and love to keep in touch with friends who are often working on new and exciting projects.

Tell us the story of how God brought you to EC

I studied literature and creative writing at Ramapo College. Unsure of what I wanted to do with my degree, I worked a variety of jobs. I wrote travel articles, blogs, social media posts, I was a researcher, tutor, babysitter, and an assistant. A creative writer at heart, I decided to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing. I was accepted into a fully funded program at the University of Maryland where I had the opportunity to teach creative writing and academic writing classes in order to get funding. It was here that I discovered a love of teaching. After graduating, I taught a variety of classes at Rutgers University, William Paterson University and Ramapo College, including creative writing, academic writing, scientific and technical writing, literature, and ELL courses. While I loved teaching at universities, there was not much stability or job security. While I was contemplating a career change, I was made aware of a position opening up at EC for an English teacher for juniors and seniors. I felt as though God had given me many years of teaching experience at various places only to lead me back home at the exact moment I needed it most.

What sets EC apart? 

Teachers around the nation often feel unseen or not important. It is hard to excel in your job when you are under-appreciated. However, at Eastern Christian I can see that all teachers are valued. Because of this, I know that students are valued as well. It is important that any Christian body supports all of its members and I can see that support, love and commitment to each other’s success here at Eastern Christian. When I met the faculty and staff, or if I talk to alumni, the joy is just so evident. It is so wonderful to be a part of a community that is so blessed.

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