Linganore girls’ soccer coach is newest art teacher

Coach Heller talks with Abby Childers (8) and Emily Purgason (12) during a game.

Alyssa Pizer

Coach Heller talks with Abby Childers (8) and Emily Purgason (12) during a game.

by Chase Breck, Reporter

Michael Heller is one of the newest teachers here at Linganore High School (LHS) and the new girls’ soccer team head coach.

Heller teaches art at LHS, focusing on computer graphics and photography this school year. Heller graduated from Shepherd College with a bachelor of fine arts in digital imagery and photography.

Heller transferred here from Thomas Johnson High School with extensive teaching experience already under his belt. He started teaching in Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) 25 years ago. His teaching career started in Urbana. There, he taught all photography and computer graphics classes and even AP Studio Art for the first 19 years of his career. He then went to Thomas Jefferson High School where he continued to teach digital art and computer graphics classes. He is now continuing to teach here at Linangore.

Heller came to Linganore to replace Georgia Geisser when she retired the end of the 2021-2022 school year. Heller explained that he knew Linganore had a very strong art department. His wife also teaches at New Market Elementary, and his kids went there, so he was familiar with the community. These were some of the factors that brought him to LHS.

In addition to teaching, Heller has a lengthy coaching resume with over 20 years of coaching experience. He coached the boys’ soccer team at Urbana and the girls’ soccer team at Walkersville. Now, he is coaching the girls soccer team here at Linganore. Heller is very excited to coach what he describes as a really strong soccer team.

Heller commented on the connections he sees between art and coaching. “Each player kind of expresses how they play the game differently, just like in art or any other sport … Everybody kind of has their own style of playing, but you’re still working on certain techniques in both.”

Heller sees plenty of benefits now that he is working at Linganore. He explained that the some of the benefits of working at Linganore include a really strong art program and strong art teachers, in addition to the strong soccer team he gets to coach.

“It’s a really great community here, and I was looking forward to it from the first day I got the job.”

Members of the girls soccer team also see the benefit in having their coach teach at the school.

“I stop in his class everyday. He keeps bottles of water and snacks for us to eat and stay hydrated throughout the day. I think everyone on the team stops by there at least once a day to say Hi or to get something to eat,” said senior Alyssa Pizer.

Christan Madenspacher, the Linganore art department chair, commented on Heller’s addition to the art department staff.

“Mr. Heller brings a significant skill set to the Linganore Art Department. From his 26 years of teaching experience in FCPS, he has a very polished approach and style for instructing the digital arts. His patience and demeanor with the students is another strength that stands out … as he clearly illustrates his ability to connect and develop rapport with the students,” said Madenspacher.

Madenspacher believes that ”the benefits of Mr. Heller being a coach furthers the development and connection with students across the department, as this strengthens more personal and meaningful relationships which … may have an indirect impact with other students within the class.”