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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Teacher Student Connection

May 29, 2013

Allen LaHeist RESIZED“Mr. Allen LaHeist is one of the best teachers there (Temecula campus). He not only teaches us from the book, but also teaches us life lessons. There is never a day that we don’t learn something new. Our grades in class can prove his excellence in teaching.” – Shannon Rorabaugh, student

Allen LaHeist is one of those people who is meant to be a teacher. As an Independent Duty Hospital Corpsman – ‘combat medic’ – for 21-years, he has a lot of life experience to share. “I’m prior military, so I’m always teaching somebody something,” says LaHeist. And, the Temecula campus was fortunate enough to get him on faculty and put him in front of knowledge-hungry students.

Allen knows he is connecting with students from his Monthly Reviews. But nothing feels as good as real-time positive feedback. “Every time I walk down the hall somebody grabs me and says, ‘I wish you were still my teacher,’” he says.

That doesn’t mean that students haven’t struggled in his classes, which include Medical Assisting, Pharmacy Technology and Business Administration program curriculum. “No matter which class it is, I try to keep it as fun and interesting as possible,” says LaHeist. “No one learns much if it isn’t fun.”

Most of his students come into their MA class with horror stories of a missed vein or huge bruises from previous blood draws and so “are a little phobic about drawing blood,” says Allen. “By the time they leave my class they are proficient at it and can stick anybody.”

Allen employs a technique – a verbal drill – that drives his point home to students. “See one, do one, teach one.” First, the student watches, then performs the task, then shows someone else. “You don’t know it until you can teach it,” says LaHeist, who, with two Masters’ Degrees, knows something about learning methodologies from both ends of the spectrum.

But Allen saves his best advice for those hugely stressful times in students’ lives. Whether it is a struggle with memorization, exam anxiety, fear of blood or not getting an important subject concept, he reminds them to “just breathe”. “That’s what they forget to do,” he says. “If someone tells me they can’t do math, I say ‘relax, just breathe, and we’ll find another way to teach you.’” Not everyone learns in the same way, or has a teacher who understands that so well.