With a family history that spans seven generations of builders and tradesmen, Katie Heiden, CEO of RHK Construction in Aurora, recognizes the hurdles in education that visual kinesthetic learners experience.
“Many people are astonished when they hear about our family’s history,” said Heiden. “For almost three centuries, our family has continued the tradition of building in the midwest region and supporting visual kinesthetic careers in our community. Our unique story includes generations of people with learning disabilities in ELA, speech, auditorial processing, and other various disorders. For generations, the trowel trade has been a place our family called home, while helping others persevere with unique learning styles.”
Heiden has witnessed a large decline in trade school and vocational school attendance over the past several years. “Certain kinds of schooling are inaccessible to young adults with unseen disabilities,” she explained. “Some succeed with accommodations in education that range from testing in smaller increments (extended time or modified questions) to having optional seating where they can switch from sitting to standing to incorporate movement.”
Heiden says that testing is not being modified for certain groups so they can become properly educated and earn prevailing wages. “Unions, vocational schools, licensing exams, and certification courses need to be well versed on IEP, 504, and OHIs,” she said. “We come from generations of people who struggled to learn; our great-grandparents stopped schooling to start laying brick in eighth grade. Our grandparents skipped school to be on the job site, and our parents were passed up for not having college degrees. With today’s technology, it’s apparent that education needs an update.”
According to Heiden, we need to continue to advocate for experience and different forms of education to be held at equitable levels of employment. “If there’s any encouragement we can give, it’s that being unique is an advantage,” she said. “We have come to know some of the best professionals who have unique learning styles and amazing stories of perseverance.”
RHK Construction, Inc.
219 West Galena Blvd.
Aurora, IL 60506