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Even at 101, Dorothy Heine keeps on working

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Angie Steffen 

Cedar County News Correspondent

HARTINGTON —  Dorothy Heine has loved teaching and helping others all of her life.

That’s why she still keeps busy at 101 by correcting papers for a local teacher. 

It’s a natural fit for Heine, who moved out of her house and into the local assisted living facility right around her 100th birthday last year.

She began her teaching career in 1937. She continued teaching, and helping other teachers long after her retirement nearly 30 years ago.

Holy Trinity second grade teacher Patti Rokusek said Heine has really helped her throughout her career.

Heine spent her career as a teacher and following retirement began working as a volunteer to help other teachers by substituting and grading papers or just helping however she could.

“She is devoted to teaching,” said Rokusek, who first  met Heine in 1997 when she moved to Hartington with her husband Steve. “She is a mother and an experienced teacher.’’

The many attributes and qualities that lend themselves to valued teaching were evident in Heine and made her someone people loved to have around. Always helping, she made a difference.

It made a difference when Heine helped Rokkusek prepare for being gone for maternity leave.

‘’I remember when I was expecting and was overdue and nervous about leaving. She helped me get organized and did all she could to help me,’’ Rokusek said.

When she began correcting papers, Rokusek said the former grade school teacher graciously offered to help her out.

“She said correcting papers keeps her busy and she likes to have something to do,’’ Rokusek said.

Rokusek has witnessed the time Heine has shared from out of the goodness of her heart.

“She’s amazing and always giving of her time,’’ Rokusek said.

Born near Wynot, Heine graduated high school in 1936 and began teaching the next year after attending Wayne State College. 

Throughout her years of teaching, Heine would complete 84 hours of educational programming in teaching via on-the-job programs or evening hours. 

It was just a natural thing to do, she said.

“It was something girls did in those days. You went into nursing or teaching,’’ she said. “I taught during the war. My husband served in the war.’’

Dorothy married Ludwig Heine in 1941. The two had eight children.

Heine said she was blessed with some natural gifts that made school easy for her.

“I have had an excellent memory,’’ Heine said. “This made school easier for me. I have always liked school and books. Learning was easy for me.’’

Before she was married, she taught in the rural school with 25 students in eight grades for four years before teaching Bow Valley second graders. 

“Bow Valley was a big school then with some classes of 20,” she said.

Teaching was the perfect way for her to spend her time.

“I like to be with people, not any one person. I like school and learning,’’ Heine said “I enjoyed most working with troubled students. This was most rewarding as a teacher because you usually saw some improvement in students who were having a hard time learning.’’

Teachers today have a lot of tools at their disposal to help them teach — tools she never had. 

“Teaching in those early years we didn’t have any modern equipment. No copier was available so we used a chalkboard,’’ she said

‘”Despite these challenges, I enjoyed teaching and the teachers. I’ve enjoyed life.’’