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Teacher of the Year still doesn’t know who nominated her

Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Heather French says she is soaking up as much information as possible from her fellow Regional Teachers of the Year. The english and art instructor says a past winner helped facilitate an email chain between French and the nine others who enjoy the distinction for the 21-22 contest. The conversation has so far veered into all kinds of subjects, including tips and tricks. French says she isn’t afraid to incorporate that into her lesson plans.

Like I tell my students all the time, good teachers steal ideas, and I am getting some great ideas from these other people, and I am going to steal them and use them in the classroom.

French still doesn’t know who nominated her for the award, and hopes to learn that soon. She says that her favorite part of teaching in Lake Linden is the small-town atmosphere where everyone knows each other. Last week when the announcement was first made public, French says she learned about it from social media. The number of people giving their congratulations ran into the hundreds. She is Teacher of the Year for Region One, encompassing the entire Upper Peninsula.

Last fall, after learning about her nomination, French had to complete a resume, cover letter, and several essays.

One of them was [to] write a letter to the editor where you are defending teachers having the summer off. Another one was how would you motivate or encourage someone to go into the teacher profession. You had to write about lessons that you love teaching.

In January, she learned she had made it to the second round and that meant more essays, along with providing references among other requirements.

French has taught english for over a decade to middle and high school students. The district has always employed an art instructor part-time, but that has led to high turnover throughout the years. French was able to pick up an endorsement for art instruction and is now teaching elementary students for the first time.

When asked how you adjust to a wide variety of subjects and age ranges like that, French says the key is to embrace trial and error. Some of the things that her students have loved surprised her, like sewing. Her class watched the film UglyDolls, an animated feature, and went to work making their own versions. It started with a lot of groaning, but before they were done several students had started a second or third. French says the same thing happens with language arts. Each class is unique. She said that for the first time she got to use a murder mystery book in her lesson plans. Other years she has had to go light on poetry in favor of another aspect of writing.

French will be on Copper Country Today this Sunday morning.

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