New Rockford Transcript - Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

Where Are They Now? Education is key to success for Heckamans


November 18, 2019

In this family photo, the Heckaman siblings are positioned from youngest to oldest (left to right): Laura, Wayne, Dan and Scott.

Scott, Dan, Wayne and Laura (Dokken) Heckaman realize that earning a good education is critical to long-term success. All in their 40s now and geographically living in Dickinson, Moorhead, Bowman, and Watford City, they each prove how schooling, an effective work ethic, and participation in constructive activities can enhance a family unit.

All four of the Heckamans were born in Jamestown. After living in Beach and Grace City previously, Dewey and Joan moved their young family to New Rockford when Scott was 13 years old and Laura, the youngest child, was only 4. Making friends was easy because, according to Wayne, "New Rockford is a supportive and welcoming community." Since the first home they lived in was next door to the Tom Watson house, Dan's first friend was Chris Watson, who was a year older, and Laura's first friend was Chris's sister Jessica. Trent Byberg, Scott Bekken, Arlie Brandvold and Cole Hardy were also special friends of the family.

New Rockford teachers made lasting impacts on the Heckaman children. Dan jokingly supplies a quip about one of his instructors: "Warren Duval's famous line in biology was 'Screw around, screw around, pretty soon you won't be around!'" A computer programming class taught by Dennis Stubson influenced Dan to study technology in college; whereas, Scott's inspiration to learn more about architecture surfaced from lessons in Gary Coon's drafting class.

Other connections to people who either worked or grew up in New Rockford are given by Wayne and Laura. Wayne worked with Dave Libis, a former NR-S high school principal, when they both were employed by the Mott school district about 10 years ago. Wayne also had the opportunity to work alongside Buster Gilliss when teaching and coaching at Bismarck State College. Alex Belquist and his sister Shelby hired Laura as their event coordinator when they opened the City Brew Hall in Wahpeton a few years ago. Laura enjoyed organizing wedding receptions and corporate dinner parties at the newly remodeled facility.

Scott, Dan, Wayne and Laura all participated in a wide variety of extra-curricular sports and other activities while they attended high school in New Rockford. Height worked to their advantage on the basketball and volleyball courts; however, as Laura points out, "The back row at church was reserved for our family because we were all so tall!"

Attending college was a must for the brothers and sister, and eight different area colleges are represented by the four siblings. After graduating with the New Rockford High School Class of 1989, Scott studied architectural drafting at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton. Dan attended Valley City State University (VCSU) on a track/cross country scholarship after he graduated with the New Rockford High School Class of 1992. He later furthered his education at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) by earning a Master of Business Administration in 2001.

Wayne's commitment to life-long learning is evident from the list of colleges and universities he has attended. He attended Bismarck State College (BSC) to earn an associate's degree, Dickinson State University for his bachelor's degree, Fresno Pacific University for a master's degree, MSUM for another master's degree and secondary principal licensure, the University of Mary where he took superintendent courses, and back to MSUM where he is currently enrolled in a Doctoral program. Laura's college alma maters are BSC, VCSU, and University of North Dakota. Like her brother Dan, Laura has an MBA with a minor in marketing.

In Dickinson, Scott has progressed with the largest plastic laminate casework manufacturer in the United States. He started as a drafter in 1992 and then was designated as a project manager. During the oil boom, Scott worked for an engineering firm where he designed new buildings primarily for customers in the oil field After returning to the manufacturing company, Scott has advanced to a new position as the company's Architectural Woodwork Division Product Line Manager. Specific millwork items, such as nurse stations, and reception and library desks, are built in this part of the company.

Scott and his wife Amy are the parents of 24-year-old Emily and 22-year-old Andrew. When Scott thinks about how much education has changed since his grandparents and parents grew up, he realizes just how quickly students are learning and how fast the world is changing. He is extremely grateful for his upbringing in New Rockford as he attributes his schooling, his part-time jobs of delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, and working as a farm hand for Glenn Walz as instrumental factors that shaped him into the person he is today. He is passing the work ethic he learned from his experiences onto his own children.

Dan was fortunate enough to secure a job with MeritCare Health System in Fargo even before he finished his schooling at VCSU. He held four different positions with MeritCare before taking a position as Chief Information Officer at MSUM. Since early October of this year, Dan's new job title is the Interim Director of Public Safety at the university. Even though he is not an instructor in the classroom, his teams support MSUM's faculty, staff, and students so that their access to IT services help them to complete whatever it is they need to accomplish.

A unique note about Dan is that he is a USA Swimming Official as well as the North Dakota Officials Chair for USA Swimming. He and wife Angie have three children, Danielle (16) and twins Drew and Alexa (12) who attend Park Christian School in Moorhead and are involved in club swimming. Dan firmly believes that learning and gaining new skills should never end. He says, "Learning is a long process that expects failure. I'm very interested in what the response is to that failure."

As the superintendent of the Bowman County School District, Wayne is the sibling who has the most exposure to the classroom on a daily basis. "Being part of the education system has allowed my family to be a part of the decision-making process, while collaborating with others for our school district and community vision," Wayne states. He has been married to Meagan for 14 years, and together, they are encouraging their children Maciah (11), Braxon (8), and Savaya (6) to understand the importance of support systems and strong friendships. Due to moves involving employment opportunities from Bismarck to Mott to West Fargo to Beach and currently to Bowman, the entire family has evolved and adapted to different community and school cultures.

A graduate of New Rockford's Class of 1997, Wayne asserts that the future for education is very bright. He would like to see schools find more ways for the youth to look at careers in education and coaching. Students look to these people as critical role models and mentors.

The youngest of the Heckaman family, Laura graduated from high school in 1998. She and her husband Brian met at UND. Following in Dewey and Joan's footsteps, Laura and Brian are also enthusiastically involved in the activities of their daughter Leah (11) and son Brock (8). Laura says, "My parents instilled a strong work ethic in all four of us kids. I remember picking potatoes and helping with the corn out at the farm that my grandparents Ralph and Esther Leichtman owned near McHenry. Brian and I want to make sure our children know the values of working hard and helping out, even when not asked to."

Working earlier as the business manager for the Wahpeton Public School District allowed Laura a first-hand knowledge of many changes, some positive and others not so positive, at the federal and state levels. She noticed employee turnover and transient family lifestyles, which can be concerning, but she has also witnessed overwhelmingly positive attributes of community youths and adults finding joy, strength, and passion through school events and activities.

It is only natural for Dewey and Joan Heckaman's four adult children to place a high regard on schooling and team involvement, having both parents in the educational fields of classroom instruction and coaching. Scott, Dan, Wayne, and Laura are emphasizing these commendable elements within their families and in their communities.


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