Minnetonka High School Staff Spotlight: A Look Into the Life of The Smiling Face At The West Entrance

Alexandra Wagner, Managing Editor, A&E

Throughout the school day, masses of students pour through the West Entrance to get their IDs checked before entering and exiting the building. The person reading students’ IDs always knows everyone’s name, but do the students of MHS know hers? 

Before moving to the high school, Cynthia “Cindy” Heimer spent several years volunteering throughout the Minnetonka district as her children were growing up, eventually becoming a substitute paraprofessional for any of the schools. After securing a more consistent role as a paraprofessional at MME, Heimer started as a hall paraprofessional at Minnetonka High School in 2010. Later, in 2014, she obtained her current position as the West Entrance receptionist. 

Heimer said she sees approximately 500 students pass through her office each day. Many of these students come from VANTAGE, gym, lunches or are advanced middle schoolers– Heimer has to identify each and every one of them as they come and go. However, she does not seem to mind the rush.

“I enjoy being around students; I really do. They lift me up,” Heimer said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on in this room, [but] I do get uplifted.”

In March 2020, Heimer’s work schedule changed drastically. She went from seeing students each day to marking attendance that teachers had reported online, reducing her human interaction with students to nearly zero.  

“When I was working from home, I really missed students,” she said. “I like getting to know everybody, and the relationships I build [are meaningful].”

Heimer explained that it is her responsibility to keep people safe, so the hardest thing about her job is when students leave the building without passing through her office.

“There has to be a balance with what I do because I do have to make sure [people are following entry and exit protocols]. When students don’t understand why they can’t do something, I just have to keep with it. It’s not easy to always have to say, ‘you just can’t do that’ when they want to go out, or they think they have special situations. Sometimes I can understand [their reasoning because] I can see myself as a student wanting to leave, so the hardest thing is seeing kids when they are disappointed,” Heimer said. 

If students were to make her job a bit easier, Heimer said the best thing for both the students and herself would be for student IDs to be easily accessible and ready to present as students pass through the West Office. This way, students can pass through more efficiently, and Heimer does not need to prod students to find their form of identification. Considering how some people forget their physical ID cards and default to their Skyward profile, Heimer mentioned that administrators really would prefer the students have their physical IDs. However, she clarified that she does understand students do occasionally forget it at home, and, some days, the Skyward profile is the best option.

“As a whole, people do a great job. The hardest thing is when students think because I know them they don’t need to show me their ID, but it just really works to maintain consistency with everyone. I have to say I really appreciate all the students that just come through my office instead of going out other ways,” Heimer said.

Heimer said she also enjoys watching students mature throughout high school. But as with every other school-related job, administrators eventually have to see the students leave.

“With the seniors, I get really sentimental towards the end of the year,” she said. 

Some students, including Luke Patefield, ‘22, even take the time to get to know Heimer better, for which she said she is really grateful.

“She’s really nice,” said Patefield. “She’s also really interesting. She’s always asking about the classes I’m in, how sports went, or how my day was. Sometimes she comes to orchestra concerts, too; that’s pretty cool.”

“I want to thank all the students because they’re just so friendly and nice and bring a lot of great energy into this room,” concluded Heimer. “Seeing people pass through just makes my day.”

The next time students pass through the West Entrance, they should be sure to greet Heimer; she cares deeply for each student and wants to connect with everyone.