H.Plourde HCHS

Heather Plourde of Rockton has been teaching for 17 years, 15 of them at Rockton’s Hononegah High School. She was nominated by her students, one of whom said, “I am grateful for Mrs. Plourde because she makes class fun instead of just straight lectures.” Principal Chad Dougherty shared that Plourde often uses activities involving movement, based on her knowledge of adolescent brain development. She teaches state-mandated health classes to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors, which enables her to get to know at least half the student body! Her classes of 30-34 students per semester may consist of severe needs students, several “Top 25” students and students with IEP/504 plans. To reach everyone appropriately, she collaborates with the special education team, uses her ESL background and tries to engage all students in subject matter they find interesting. She includes students’ families in their studies. She says, “In high school, students typically don’t enjoy having health-related conversations with parents. In both my health courses, I open doors for parents to talk with their child about nutrition, drugs, healthy relationships, family medical issues and many more topics.” She added, “A teen’s connection to family and community may be the one thing that keeps them from making a poor decision and falling into drugs or other risky behaviors.” Plourde’s students engage with community members by earning CPR certification from the fire department and visiting local colleges to learn about health careers. Former student, Lauren Wedig, who submitted a letter recommending Plourde, confirmed that learning CPR and how to tie a tourniquet came in handy in her senior year shortly after the lesson! The need to address diversity was evident when Plourde found herself in the minority when teaching in Las Vegas, so she leads students to examine other races and cultures. One day, students bring in foods from various cultures to share. Classes discuss the inequality of healthcare based on race and income level, as well as how one’s diet or ethnicity contribute to disease. During sexual health units, Heather’s objective is to present “current, accurate and relevant material to the straight and gay community.” Students who identify as LGBTQ+ give a presentation and share what it’s like for them to be gay students in society, including how word choices affect people. The school social worker and psychologist from Student Support Services to discuss careers, stress management and suicidal awareness with her classes. She wants students to feel secure enough to reach out when in crisis. COVID, of course, brought new issues requiring new solutions. Plourde works with the SSS department even more now. And classes may include both students in-person and virtually now, but she ensures that all students are welcomed and participate. Ultimately, Plourde says, “if my students end up living successful and fulfilling lives, I feel there is no greater measure of success as an educator.” Wedig seems to be on her way, crediting Plourde. She wrote, “She was there for me all throughout high school, whether I had her as a teacher for the semester or not. Mrs. Plourde has influenced my life in a positive way and helped me achieve everything I put my mind to.”