AMSTERDAM — For Garrett McHeard to get the most out of his Amsterdam High School experience, everything was a matter of time.
In four years at Amsterdam, he certainly did a lot. On top of his regular schoolwork, McHeard was a four-sport varsity athlete, he spent his senior year shadowing healthcare professionals at Nathan Littauer Hospital through the HFM BOCES New Visions program, and he put in the rigorous work to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.
Managing to cram that all into four years comes down to two words, he said, “time management.”
It was a matter, McHeard said, of forcing himself to make time, even if he didn’t necessarily want to.
“I’d be lying to you if I said there were some times I didn’t want to do it,” McHeard said, “but sitting down when I had free time at school and doing my homework, sitting down when I had free time in between basketball or football practice, banging out the schoolwork.”
It didn’t hurt to get a little nudge at home, either.
“My mom was a big part,” he said. “[She’d say], ‘Do you work,’ and it was ‘Ma’am, yes ma’am.’”
McHeard’s work ethic was instilled from both his parents. Mom Colleen McHeard is a physical education teacher in the Greater Amsterdam School District, and father Rev. Kent McHeard is the pastor at Woestina Reformed Church and a long-time member of the GASD Board of Education.
Garrett McHeard — who officially attained the rank of Eagle Scout this past November, a couple years after completing an Eagle Scout project that saw him re-paint the outdoor basketball courts at William B. Tecler Arts in Education Magnet School — has turned that hard-working spirit into a high school career that’s set him on the path to his future.
A star athlete who participated in football, basketball and both indoor and outdoor track and field, McHeard’s athletic prowess earned him a Division I college scholarship. A standout thrower on Amsterdam’s track teams who capped off his high school career with a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division 1 championship in the shot put, McHeard will study and compete at the University of Connecticut.
While his sports career determined his destination for college, his path of study was defined by his experiences in the New Visions program as a senior.
“I’m over at Nathan Littauer shadowing people, shadowing healthcare professionals in the hospital,” he said. “It’s different from your traditional classrom experience. You’re actually in real-life situations.
“One day, I could go in and see a surgery. The next day, I could go see someone being rolled into the ICU.”
McHeard soaked the experiences up like a sponge, but it was one rotation in particular that made him certain of the career he’d like to pursue.
“Around February, I rotated into physical therapy,” he said. “That was one of my possible career choices, but being there and seeing how the physical therapists communicated with the patients, educated the patients and really worked as a team to make sure the patients got better definitely inspired me to really want to go into a sports medicine, physical therapy type of field.”
The time in New Visions gave McHeard a glimpse of what life is like beyond the high school walls.
“I would compare it to a year-long internship,” he said. “It’s almost like you’re an adult. They look at you like you’re an adult. Then, you come back here, and I love high school, but you feel like a kid here.”
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