Teacher Feature: Henning Teaches the Business of Life

Since the inception of the Microsoft Certification program in 2013, Warren Hills students have earned over 1600 Microsoft Certifications. (Photo by Mary Ann McKinney)

Since the inception of the Microsoft Certification program in 2013, Warren Hills students have earned over 1600 Microsoft Certifications. (Photo by Mary Ann McKinney)

Kirsten Dorman, Staff Reporter

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Almost anyone could tell you that high school is a springboard for later life,  but few make the most of this opportunity as effectively as Julia Henning.  A Tennis coach, Glamour Gals advisor, and Business teacher, Henning works to provide authentic experiences to prepare students for life beyond Warren Hills.

One of the first steps toward this goal was bringing a Microsoft Certification program to the school.

“My first year at the high school, in 2012, I was teaching one small block of Microsoft Skills.  It seemed to be too basic of a program for high school students — it needed more,” said Henning.  “A family member teaching Business Education in Florida told me about the Microsoft Office Certification program.  I researched it and realized it was exactly what I had envisioned for this course.”

Hills became a Microsoft Testing Center in 2013 and Henning said the change in students has been apparent.

“I see increased motivation in students to set and achieve higher goals as they are working to prepare for a successful future,”  she said.  “These international, industry-recognized certifications are boosting students’ resumes while they gain valuable work experience and confidence.”

“In order to become proficient in technical skills, learning by doing is the best way to do it,” Henning continued. “It’s a tried and true combination of discussion, demonstrations, and hands-on learning.”

Henning said that practicing real-life scenarios in helps prepare students for the real world.

“One former student said a professor told them, ‘If you don’t know Excel proficiently, then you’re in boot camp’ during their first week of college,” she said.  She felt relieved and ahead of the curve.”

But Henning’s passion for learning by doing did not end with the Microsoft Certification program.

In 2016, Hills became home to a Glamour Gals Club after Henning pitched the idea of  a local chapter to her Fashion Merchandising class. Glamour Gals, whose aim is to bridge the gap in generations by offering companionship and manicures to isolated elderly people through monthly visits to a nursing home, serves to enhance the lives of both the students and the elderly.

“The staff at the home tells us the residents count the days until we will visit again and we know many of them by name,” Henning said.  “Time after time, the students remark to me how good they feel inside after having been there. That mutual joy is the byproduct of serving others and what makes this club so special.”

In a similar vein, Henning also seeks to help prepare students for life through coaching Tennis.

“Tennis is a mental game as much as it is physical. Each player must stay focused and mentally strong the whole match,” said Henning.  “Real life is full of various pressures, so learning how to keep emotional and mental composure on the court helps students navigate competitive atmospheres they may face in their future – this mental preparedness is a crucial part of being ready for that.”