• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Teacher of the Year: Moffett: classroom career was her 'dream job'

HEATHER MOFFETT, pictured with fifth-grader Gracie Fetters, focuses on the individual needs of her students, and describes herself as "their number one cheerleader." (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Public education has changed a lot during her 14 years in the classroom, but teaching has always been Woodford County native Heather Moffett's "dream job." "I played teacher as a child and just knew that's what I wanted to do," explains Moffett. ".So I am living my dream out with a lot of hard work." Northside Elementary School's Teacher of the Year says she was the first person in her family to attend college, but never wavered from her passion to teach. Moffett, an Eastern Kentucky University graduate, credits building strong relationships with students for giving her insight into what they need from their teacher. "I have a whole classroom of different learners at different levels so I have to find out how to reach that struggling learner . how to challenge my top learner," she says. While always focusing on those individual needs, Moffett says, "I'm their number one cheerleader." Every morning, she greets her students at the door with a hug - or handshake - and gives them a choice. Thankfully, she says most choose to stay positive and work hard. "If they know I believe in them," says Moffett, "they trust me and they work a little harder." It's her job to get her fifth-graders ready for middle school so her best moments happen when her students are successful. Moffett has been teaching at Northside since 2000, but began her career at Southside Elementary a year earlier. She was also a stay-at-home mom for a couple of years. During her 14 years in the classroom, Moffett taught third-graders and was a math recovery teacher for most of those years. Moffett's specialized math training remains beneficial to her students as they move from a conceptual understanding of numbers to grasping strategies for figuring out difficult math problems. "And that's where my heart is," she says. ".I do have a passion for the math side of it." Being a math recovery teacher also became an opportunity to bring "Girls on the Run" - a program focused on bolstering self-respect and healthy lifestyles in preteen girls - to Northside, and eventually other elementary schools in Woodford County. Those principles of empowerment are relevant to her fifth-graders too. "When they go to middle school," says Moffett, "I want them to have confidence in themselves. I want them to believe in themselves, and to know that basically the world is wide open . and you choose your path." Both of her children were students at Midway's Northside Elementary, which Moffett describes as "a special place." Her eyes begin to fill with tears when she remembers how her Northside family took care of daughters Abby and Emma while their father, Jeff, was going through his treatment for cancer, and their mother was being with her husband of 17 years. He's now cancer-free. "That was a very difficult time," remembers Moffett, "and this school . wrapped their arms around us. ".It was tough. They were amazing." (This is the second in a series of feature stories on Woodford County Public Schools' Teachers of the Year.)

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