To say Amanda Herriman-Reichel is passionate about life would be quite an understatement.
The three-time graduate of William Woods (B.S. in Elementary Education/Art Education 2009; Master’s in Athletic/Activities Administration 2011, and Specialist Degree in School Superintendency 2013) has always been super involved, going back to her days at The Woods when she was active in her sorority, campus organizations, theatre productions, and the LEAD and Freshman Advantage programs.
Fast-forward to 2022, and we find the Eldon, Missouri native still doing it all. She currently teaches third grade in the Moniteau County R-1 School District in California, Missouri. She creates art and has sold her original acrylic, oil and watercolor paintings locally. She is a wife and mom to three children, and lives on a 50-acre farm, also in California, Missouri.
And in her spare time in the past year, Amanda added another labor of love when she became a published author for the first time.
“I always had hopes of becoming an educator, artist and author one day,” said Herriman-Reichel. “After graduating from WWU, I became an educator. Four years ago, I became an artist. I knew in my heart that God would put an idea for writing in my heart when the time was right.”
That time turned out to be 2021, when Amanda lived an inspirational goal-setting story that she felt needed to be shared to in turn inspire others. What resulted was “My Word Of The Year,” a book she self-published on Amazon in December 2021 that is now available in paperback and e-book. “My Word Of The Year” is about goal-setting and then taking action steps to achieve results. Using the theme of One Word, Three Goals and One Year, the heartwarming and humorous non-fiction book details the truth about a hardworking, rural American family of educators who strive to serve others.
“It’s an inspirational journey of a year of prayer where I set goals, take action steps and achieve results, all in God’s perfect timing,” she said.
As it turned out, Amanda had a pretty strong source of inspiration herself along the way on her life’s journey.
All In The Family
You might say that Herriman-Reichel’s decision to attend The Woods was a foregone conclusion, even before she was born. Long before she ever set foot on the Fulton campus, her family’s ties were already deep in the William Woods soil. Her mother Clare Dowling-Herriman, class of 1981, attended WWU on a full-ride athletic scholarship, competing on the Owls’ basketball, volleyball, tennis and softball teams before embarking on a 41-year career teaching physical education and working in administration in the Eldon public schools. She also spent 12 years teaching in the William Woods Athletic/Activities Administration graduate program, and even got married to her husband of 39 years (Amanda’s father) in the William Woods campus chapel.
“During my senior year of high school, my mom and I toured the beautiful WWU campus, and I knew I was home,” Amanda said. “Like my mom, I wanted to pursue an education degree, and I knew that William Woods has one of the very best teaching programs in the region.”
What followed were memorable years at The Woods, making lifelong friends with her Chi Omega sisters, serving as vice-president of the Education club and on the Greek Panhellenic Board, and participating in LEAD events and Freshman Advantage. That’s not to mention the academic experience she benefitted from at WWU.
“The WWU Art and Education Departments equipped me with the knowledge needed and the steadfast ‘with-it-ness’ to pursue my career as an educator,” she said. “I have spent half my career as an Art teacher and half my time as an elementary school teacher, and I credit the late Sharon Means for going above and beyond, assisting me with readiness throughout my education courses at WWU. I also credit my professor and influential artist, Terry Martin, for the time he spent believing in his students. I was lucky to have him as my supervising teacher for my student-teaching experience.”
Overall, having the smaller class sizes at The Woods where everyone knew you on a first-name basis was a huge plus. As was another “unofficial” minor Amanda picked up at WWU in Theatre, which was a hobby but ended up being an asset in her teaching.
“In today’s teaching world, you must captivate your audience with interactive learning that entertains,” she said. “My theatre training was interwoven within my career path as every day educating children is much like performing in a theatrical production!”
Doing It By The Book
After graduating from William Woods, Herriman-Reichel settled into her busy life of teaching, creating art, and being a mom and wife. But the dream of becoming an author was never far away.
“I have applied the practice of having a word of the year to my life since 2017, a concept that allows my mind to hyperfocus on one central theme for an entire year,” she said. “Eventually, I paired goal setting with my word of the year, and it set my journey along a unique path to which I am forever grateful.”
Amanda began 2021 with her word for the year being “Prayer.” She coupled the word with three goals for the year, one for her mind, one for her body, and one for her spirit. For the mind, her goal was to read one book per week and complete 52 books by the end of the year. For her body, her goal was to set a nutrition plan in place for weight loss and train and compete in a half marathon. For spirit, her goal was to read the Bible from beginning to end.
Using her theme of Prayer, Amanda was able to surpass her limitations and meet her goals, and near the end of 2021 became inspired to use the experience to write her book. Spending every spare available moment working on the project between October and December, including several late nights and all of her Thanksgiving break from school, she was able to self-publish “My Word Of The Year” by the end of the year.
“My biggest challenge with writing this book was finding the necessary time to actively engage with my creative writing process without completely limiting distractions,” she said. “It was essential for me to work on my book without stealing time away from my ultimate priorities of being a wife, mother and teacher. I did not take one day off from my teaching duties while writing this book, and would often tuck my children into bed at night and stay up until the wee hours writing.”
“I ultimately had to give up some family time to meet my deadline, but in my heart, I know that when my children read my book, they will understand why I chose to pursue this goal during the time that I did, and hopefully, my message will leave them inspired.”
During her very full and active life, Amanda Herriman-Reichel has been inspired by many – her own mother, mentors on the William Woods University faculty, the lifelong friends she gained at WWU, among others. But now, it is Amanda who is doing the inspiring, impacting her children, her students, Art lovers and those who read her book.
For someone who has always taken great joy in being involved with others, there is no greater proof of a life well-lived.