Sheila Morrall of Poplar Grove has been teaching in the Belvidere School District for 23 years, 16 at Belvidere South Middle School, where she teaches Spanish to students in 6th-8th grades. Assistant Principal, Linda Colson, says that Sheila’s “excitement and enthusiasm for learning is contagious not only for her students, but also for her colleagues. She finds ways to make her lessons engaging and memorable for the students.” In fact, one day, Colson saw the students in Sheila’s class singing a song in Spanish to help with vocabulary retention. She also shared that Sheila “builds relationships with her students and it is evident she cares about the whole child. In her classroom, students come first and content comes second.” Sheila agrees. “It is not the teaching of my topic that changes things, it is the connections and the relationships that are built that teach our youth how to be productive citizens in our world.” Sheila has been training, translating and teaching on mission trips to Belize for the past five years. Cathy Dulgar of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere has been on those trips and sees the impact Sheila makes. “This is a teacher that takes her gifts and talents to make a difference in the lives of those she meets along her path.” Sheila’s students come from various socio-economic backgrounds. They are of varying ethnicities. Some have medical issues or language barriers. But she says, “regardless of our personal differences, we learn together and help each other grow and strive in my classroom. I love that each person is unique and has talents and abilities that no one else has.” Sheila knows that as her students and their individual needs change, her teaching style has had to change as well. She sets high expectations but helps her students set plans to accomplish their goals. And the students join her in assessing and reassessing their work, formally and informally. Sheila says that classroom technology changes the dynamic of the room. “Students become leaders through their technology strengths as they teach everyone in the classroom, including me, new things that they are finding. They have a ‘can do’ attitude and know that if they can’t, it is just ‘not yet.’” Despite any challenges the profession of teaching may present, Sheila has seen so many rewards that keep her motivated to keep learning, keep teaching and keep watching her students succeed.