Shawano native employs empathy, respect for diversity

Milner focusing on multicultural social justice
By: 

Contributed Photo “If you want peace, prepare for peace” is the school motto for the University of Peace in Costa Rica, where Heidi Milner earned her masters in Peace Education.

Heidi Milner, of Shawano, has always had a passion for multicultural social justice, and her passion has culminated in a multicultural educational book she is writing for the Boys and Girls Club.

“I have always found it important to engage with and learn from people from different walks of life and from different backgrounds,” Milner said.

Milner attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she took a course on multicultural education and development that solidified her direction in life.

She went on to earn her master’s degree in peace education at the University of Peace in Costa Rica. She said a degree in peace education can mean a lot of different things; it is both all-encompassing and interest-specific at the same time.

Milner placed a specific emphasis on human rights issues, specifically in terms of diversity, during her time at the University of Peace.

She started volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club in Shawano in January and makes sure to stop in every time she is in Shawano.

“The Boys and Girls Club does so many wonderful, wonderful things,” Milner said. “The staff and volunteers there are so caring and compassionate … it really is phenomenal.”

Milner also began to interview community members from Shawano to gain their perspective on where the community is succeeding and where they think growth could be seen, Milner said.

These experiences were useful as she began writing a multicultural educational guide to be used at the Boys and Girls Club.

“This community has an amazing vision,” Milner said. “By writing this guide, I hope I can do them justice. I am both honored and excited.”

She is still in the process of doing research for the guide. She hopes to focus on diversity in the broader sense, including racial and ethnic diversity as well as ability and socioeconomic diversity, Milner said.

The book will include about 20 different lessons for children the Boys and Girls Club can employ when they have the need, Milner said. These lessons will consist of activities lasting about 45 minutes that engage children with diversity in a fun way. Examples include multicultural-focused games, art projects and theater activities.

Milner recently accepted a position to teach third grade at Hiawatha Academy charter school in Minneapolis. She had previously taught for two years at a pueblo reserve in New Mexico, as well as a year at a school in Stevens Point.

“These experiences has shaped who I am and what I want to teach. I am excited to move forward,” Milner said.