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Amy Wheeler
Amy Wheeler
Director, Child Protection Training Academy
Center for State Policy and Leadership

“The pandemic impacted all of the Center’s divisions in a variety of ways.  For the Child Protection Training Academy it meant an immediate transition to a different kind of simulation training, one that had not yet been contemplated or piloted.  Amy quickly envisioned a hybrid simulation training model that met the needs of the DCFS workforce, using a combination of technology and in-person interactions transmitted over Zoom.  The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and several states have reached out to observe our model so they can adapt their in-person training to our format.  Amy is an innovative leader with vision and flexibility!” – Dr. Betsy Goulet, Clinical Assistant Professor, CAST Coordinator

What does your position entail, what do you like most about your job or what motivates you to wake up and go to work?

As the Director of the Child Protection Training Academy, my position requires much multi-tasking.  I am responsible for overseeing the trainings conducted through UIS on the DCFS contract, which consists of simulations with newly hired investigators and supporting other DCFS projects. Being involved with the Problem Based Learning trainings, and ensuring that others are trained in this critical thinking model is essential to what we are doing, so discovering ways to integrate into all of our trainings has been exciting.  What I love most about my job is being able to deliver meaningful trainings to professionals that want to improve the safety of children.  I love seeing when participants’ “light bulbs go off” meaning they are connecting the learning issues with their practice.  My team is amazing, and motivate me daily!  The work is rewarding, challenging, and always innovative – and finding new ways to improve what we are doing is exciting with this team. 

What drew you to your current position?

I always knew that I was meant to be in the classroom and in the training arena to improve the way that child protection work is done.  I had no idea that simulation training had been implemented into child protection until I came to UIS.  To be involved in this groundbreaking approach is amazing!

What has been your favorite project thus far?

I love all of our projects!!! 

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Drive a race car

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?

I think Betsy Goulet is a wonderful mentor!  But if I could go back in time, I would want to work with Eleanor Roosevelt because I think she was progressive and innovative for her time – with a interest in improving the lives of children.

What’s a fun fact about you many people may not know?

If I won the lottery, I would have a garage to rival Jay Leno’s!!!

What is your motto or personal mantra?

A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink. – Gina Carey

Any favorite line from a movie?

I have soooo many, I’m constantly quoting random movie clips or music lyrics – it’s how I communicate.  In this moment, the first one that pops to my mind:  “I feel the need, the need for speed” – Maverick, Top Gun