Get to Know Our 20 Finalists!
Heather Geary of Machesney Park taught multiple grades and courses in nine years with Lincoln Middle School in Rockford. She then went to Rockford’s Whitehead Elementary, where she has been teaching for four years: first to fifth graders and now to fourth graders. Heather encourages her students to have a growth mindset. “My students have learned to set goals, revisit goals and re-set goals to drive their learning.” One goal they accomplished was to raise enough money to buy a classroom pet. Sharing in the education about and care for the pet has bonded them as a community, as well as helped with behavior and social-emotional needs. Her students have a wide range of needs academically, emotionally, racially and economically, but she says, “despite the diversity, my students know that when they walk into my classroom, we are one family. We all strive to pull each other up and support each other.” A colleague who recommended Heather for the Golden Apple award said, “Heather is one of those teachers you come across once in a great while. She is popular with students, families and colleagues. Many [students] who once feared math often say that math is fun! Heather’s ability to spark a love of learning is truly an art form.” Heather shared that her goal is “to challenge, monitor and manage student learning to ensure that all students reach high standards and expectations.” She is committed as an educator to help every student learn and succeed both in the classroom and in life.