BEND, OR -- A local teacher received a big honor during a special assembly Monday morning. Deputy State Superintendent Salam Noor made the announcement at Juniper Elementary: "This is a teacher who is exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled at what they do. And, this year, that teacher is here at Juniper Elementary. The Oregon Department of Education, in partnership with the Oregon Lottery, is proud to announce the 2016 Teacher of the Year is Ms. Heather Anderson."
Anderson is in her 13th year of teaching; she has spent the last eight years in her hometown of Bend and also serves as a coach for her colleagues. The Oregon Department of Education says she was recognized for her work integrating technology into lessons and building a positive learning environment. The fourth
grade teacher was surprised by all the attention. "This is definitely the biggest moment, but those aren’t always the most memorable. Sometimes it’s the impacts that come years later like earlier this summer when I received a letter from a student thanking me for being in the Navy now and accomplishing all these goals."
While Anderson was humbled by the honor, her students were ecstatic. Lola tells KBND, "It was very exciting for me, I had my fingers crossed; she gives a lot of prizes and she gives you a chance, and she’s always a great teacher." Kiana adds, "She’s always kind and she’s not just a teacher, she’s a very amazing person." And, RJ says, "She’s Phenomenal; I mean, I’m just so excited for her I can’t even speak. It’s awesome that she won this award."
Anderson tells KBND, "I think it’s just important to be loving and nurturing; and still be strict and kind and firm, and have your rules and expectations. I love what I do and I love my kids. I like to have fun with the learning but still keep it at a high, rigorous level and they work for that. They work hard and I work hard, and teaching’s fun and rewarding and that’s one of the reasons I love it." She adds, "It’s really overwhelming
and surprising. It’s just a huge honor to be able to represent our town and our state, and especially – Bend is my hometown, so being a product of Bend-La Pine Schools and now teaching here – and then winning this award is amazing!"
Anderson and Juniper Elementary each receive a $5,000 check and a plaque as part of the award. She will also serve as a spokesperson for all Oregon teachers, and will attend the national Recognition Week for Teachers of the Year in Washington, DC in April where she'll meet President Obama.
The last teacher from Bend-La Pine Schools to win Oregon Teacher of the Year was in 1991 when Bonnie Elliott was honored for her work at Bend Senior High. In 1973,
Jack Ensworth of Kenwood Elementary in Bend went on to win the National Teacher of the Year.