Allison Heiduk, a third-grade teacher at Vieja Valley Elementary School in the Hope School District, has been selected as the 2014-15 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year.
County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone made the announcement and introduced her Thursday during the monthly meeting of the county Board of Education.
One of a number of outstanding nominees for the honor countywide, she was selected by a committee that included teachers, administrators, PTA representatives, school board members and other community members.
Heiduk will become the county’s official representative on July 1, and her nomination will be reviewed in the fall for consideration as California Teacher of the Year. The state winner will then be advanced for consideration as 2015 National Teacher of the Year.
“Each day I strive to provide opportunities for students to grow academically, gain confidence, and create the ability to feel good about themselves and their learning. … No matter their ability, you will see them being challenged," Heiduk said. “My role as a teacher is to create a community within my classroom where students feel safe to take risks in their learning, where they feel supported, and one in which they support one another in the learning environment.”
Cirone congratulated Heiduk for her innovation, enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication.
“We are fortunate to have many great teachers in Santa Barbara County, but Allison Heiduk is truly exceptional,” Cirone said. “She is devoted to what she calls 'the three C’s of education' — community, curriculum and communication — and her work is an exemplary model for all educators. Her enthusiasm for innovation keeps her students engaged in their learning, and her effectiveness as a teacher leader has been a tremendous benefit for local schools.”
With more than 22 years of teaching experience, Heiduk uses her natural enthusiasm and eagerness to support both students and colleagues as they learn and grow. Having taught in the Hope School District since 1995, teaching third-graders since 2009, she has extensive experience in working with elementary students.
Most recently, she has focused her work on implementing the Common Core State Standards in her classroom and mentoring her colleagues, who are benefiting from her early work on the new standards.
“Being able to be a teacher leader and provide insight to teachers, ask questions of teachers, and also to be able to learn from others, has not only been a great educational contribution to my site, district and profession, but also to my own personal growth as a teacher,” Heiduk said.
She earned her bachelor of science degree in political science from UCSB and her multiple-subject teaching credential from Notre Dame de Namur University in the San Francisco Bay Area. She began her teaching career in the Belmont School District in Belmont, where she taught kindergarten, first and fifth grades. Since then, she has taught nearly all other elementary grades in the Hope School District.
While at Belmont School District, Heiduk was an integral part of a team that won a $2 million grant from the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network. With that grant, seven schools from three districts collaborated with students, parents, teachers, and community members to prepare students for the 21st century by promoting inquiry and emphasizing critical thinking.
She is a dedicated teacher leader in the Hope School District, serving as a staff development leader, a mentor for district and site colleagues as well as for student teachers, and an active member of several district and site committees.
“Allison has a gift for engaging students in whatever subject matter she is teaching and planning lessons that incorporate teaching strategies to support all students. She is always eager to learn new ways to meet the needs of her students and successfully implement strategies that lead to student success,” wrote Principal Mariann Cooley of Vieja Valley School.
Natalie Wilkes, a fourth-grade teacher at Vieja Valley, said, “Allison makes literature exciting, math stimulating, and other curricular areas relevant. She connects with her students and inspires her colleagues. … Simply put, Allison’s lessons and nature cause students to enjoy learning.”
Dan Cooperman, Hope School District superintendent, stated, “Allison’s engaging personality and professional knowledge motivate others to follow her lead. She is a standout as an experienced teacher who acquires new information and translates this learning into practice to serve as a model to others. Allison willingly and energetically accepts any challenge. Her work highlights what is good about public education."
— Dave Bemis is the communications director for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.