Heather Berry was nominated by her student teacher, Zoe Caven and a student who wishes to remain anonymous.
Ms. Berry never misses an opportunity to contribute to her school, and there is no shortage of professionalism when it comes to her educational career. She has been an educator for the last 12 years and was named the Douglas County School District Secondary Educator of the Year. She also spearheaded efforts for her school to gain the Green Flag Award in 2016, and was awarded a White House Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Education. Ms. Berry connects with her students by going beyond the surface level. She is a caring educator who has a passion for teaching.
"As her student teacher this semester, I have watched first hand how Heather Berry changes the lives of her students, family, colleagues and community," Caven said. "Heather has a way of shaping the people she knows into the best forms of themselves. Though Heather is a fierce advocate for her community, family, students and colleagues, she never tries to control or change the actions of the people she advocates for. She gives her students a healthy amount of responsibility for their actions. I truly admire this quality about her."
The level of attention and effort that goes into Ms. Berry's classroom is why the AP Environmental Science program has flourished to become one of the most popular classes in the school. Every year, she challenges her students to create a student-led sustainability project, which has made a measurable impact in the school.
She has coached her students to help install the outdoor classrooms and replace the lights with LEDS. They have even installed water-efficiency saving devices, a project that was presented at the U.S. Green Building Council Conference. Ms. Berry has also supported the development of an inaugural Sustainability Club that has garnered community donations worth $15,000 for a Green Wall Project. She is an exemplary role model to everyone.
"Heather has guided me toward becoming a teacher who is an advocate for the students, the community, and sustainability," Caven said. "She has taught me how to lead the students by nurturing them and having a mutual respect for each other. If not for Heather, I do not know what type of a teacher I would be. Thanks to her guidance, I have become a nurturing, happy, and passionate teacher."
"Ms. Berry is an outstanding choice for this award because she is a representative of our school, and I know the money will be used to fund more student-led projects and be put into meaningful places in our school," her student said. "Her compassion, kindness, and humility are incredible."