November 10, 2023

Middleton’s Amy Heatherman is an Outstanding Educator

Middleton’s Amy Heatherman is an Outstanding Educator Featured Image
Amy Heatherman (right) with her colleague and Outstanding Educator nominator Wendy Ripp.

Amy Heatherman, a special education case manager at Sauk Trail Elementary School in Middleton, is the Outstanding Educator who was recognized at the Wisconsin Badgers football game against Northwestern at Camp Randall Stadium on November 11. In addition to appearing as an Outstanding Educator on the field and stadium jumbotron screen during the game, she received tickets to the game and a plaque commemorating her excellence and hard work.

“I decided to become a teacher for the simple reason that I have a deep desire and passion to make a positive impact on the lives of students,” Heatherman said. “I truly believe that the work teachers do can change a student’s life forever. I believe that teaching is a profession that allows a teacher to directly contribute to the betterment of society by helping to shape the next generation of citizens.”

Heatherman was nominated for the Outstanding Educator program by Wendy Ripp, a teacher, WEAC member and Sauk Trail Elementary School parent.

“I cannot say enough good things about Amy and her tireless commitment to the teaching profession. Her school, and my son especially, are so lucky to have her,” Ripp said. “Amy has been teaching for over 28 years and is one of the most dedicated and passionate educators I have ever met. Amy recently continued her own education to become a special education teacher.”

Heatherman thinks continuing education is important for educators. “I am proud that I have two master’s degrees. One is in Curriculum and Instruction and the other is in Special Education,” Heatherman said.

Heatherman also emphasized that interaction and communication among educators, parents, colleagues, and community members is crucial in the education process and an essential part of her practice.

“My favorite part of being a teacher is forming deep and meaningful relationships with students as a special education case manager,” Heatherman said. “I also have the opportunity to form deep connections with families. I have a deep respect for parents of students with special needs and feel motivated when I am able to help them with school issues as well as obtaining outside resources. I also feel incredibly lucky to work with the most amazing staff and administrators. We share similar goals and have a passion for educating students as a team.”

The Outstanding Educator surprise announcement was presented to Heatherman in her classroom, in front of her students and Sauk Trail principal Chris Dahlk. Heatherman was happy to share this rare and unexpected recognition with the students. As a special education case manager, Heatherman finds extra rewards in working with the special needs students at Sauk Trail. Many teachers are motivated and rewarded by watching their students grow and progress and they embrace the ups and downs associated with that process. For Heatherman, those emotions and rewards are amplified by her appreciation of the special challenges that her students meet.

“I am motivated when I see growth and progress in a particular student. My students have to work much harder both academically and socially to make progress,” Heatherman said. “Witnessing this progress and their accomplishments is a deep source of pride and motivation. I am also motivated by the variety and challenge that each academic day brings. There are always new opportunities to solve problems and make decisions that make being a teacher incredibly dynamic and interesting.”

Heatherman is a member of the Middleton Education Association, WEAC Region 6, WEAC and NEA. She believes the union and its programs help her, in many ways, to be the educator she strives to be. She appreciates that the union is a member-led organization that takes a broad view of public education and the education-employee landscape.

“It is important for me to be a member of the teachers’ union because I believe that our union effectively advocates for policies that benefit both educators and students, such as increased education funding, improved working conditions and smaller class sizes,” Heatherman said. “Being a part of the union creates a sense of community and helps teachers have a collective voice in the decision-making process.”

Do you or a Wisconsin public school teacher you know deserve extra recognition as an Outstanding Educator? If so, complete this nomination form on the Wisconsin Badgers Athletic Department website. The form asks you to write a paragraph or two about what makes this educator stand out. Educators are welcome to nominate themselves.

The Outstanding Educator program is sponsored by the UW Athletic Department, WEA Member Benefits and WEAC.