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Above & Beyond the Classroom: Celebrating the Success of a Great Teacher & Veteran

Do you remember what going to school felt like? I do, and it wasn’t always easy. You hear about those incredible people who strive to make a difference in the lives of their students and commit their lives to encouraging creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration; Heather Ellis is that person. She is a remarkable educator, starting each day off embodying the full cry essence of an inclusive, innovative, and compassionate teacher. She has supported substantial growth for each of her special needs students by aligning her teaching with the impeccable standards of a honored Veteran while fostering a holistic learning environment for each one individually.

Heather's dedication to inclusivity, engagement, and student-led learning is evident in her conscious teaching approach, always figuring out how to best respond and support the diverse and singularly unique needs of her students. By empowering them to take ownership of their learning, she nurtures their growth and development while helping them learn more about themselves and how to build positive, healthy relationships with each other.

Heather has made it her life's purpose to create a safe, inclusive, and respectful classroom environment for students with special needs and developmental delays. She gives her students the opportunity to be heard and actively contribute to shaping their classroom constitution, fostering positive behavior and respect for themselves and others.

When Heather asked if we would help support her student-led coffee cart program to promote entrepreneurship, business management, and social responsibility, we were thrilled. Being able to contribute supplies to continue the work project that helps develop essential life skills and relevant real-world experiences that she has worked into her curriculum, inspiring her students to become independent thinkers and responsible citizens filled us with gratitude for all she does.

Heather's teaching extends far beyond subject matter, preparing students for the responsibilities of adulthood. Including the addition of a classroom pet to teach responsibility, respect, and empathy. Heather's ability to engage and adapt to individual student needs is exceptional. Her students have shown significant growth, thanks to her thoughtful and creative approach to teaching. She communicates in the most compassionate, fun, and engaging way, allowing her to effectively create a culture of respect, and maintain high, yet achievable, expectations for all her unique students.

Thank you so much, Heather, not only for being a valuable asset to the education profession, but for being a force for good in the world. Your dedication to creating an inclusive, safe, and respectful learning environment, safe and respectful use of technology, and commitment to real-world learning experiences is an example we can all learn from and make every effort to implement more in our lives. You inspire me, reminding me of all the good that one person can do when they move through life with love and purpose in their heart.

Working with your tangible kindness, strength, and intelligence embodied in your teaching style has instilled a renewed confidence, inspiration, and hope in me, your students, and anyone else lucky enough to have you as an example in their lives.

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