Heather Anderson doesn’t sit back and hope for success to reach her, she is an active participant in all of her successes – and she sure isn’t stopping now!
Anderson won the 2016 Oregon Teacher of the Year, she received the 2017 National Education Association Teaching in Excellence Award, and she is a National Board Certified Teacher who has been teaching for 18 years. However, this impressive list of achievements did not come from luck. Anderson worked hard to be recognized, and never took the easy route to achieve her goals.
“It was humbling and amazing to be recognized as 2016 Oregon Teacher of the Year,” she says. “The award has allowed me to work on educational policy changes in our state to help support teachers and students.”
But when Anderson won Oregon Teacher of the Year in 2016, she realized there wasn’t just one reason for her success, but several – and that her path to becoming the best teacher possible began very early on.
Born and raised in Bend, Anderson established her roots and love of education in Oregon. Not only was her mother a teacher, so was her grandmother. Today, she still lives in Bend, but now with her own family. Having a strong community and growing up with such important influences, she simply knew teaching would be her calling.
Anderson says, “I loved to read as a child and now I love to instill the love of reading in children as a teacher.”
Anderson’s father graduated from Oregon State University in 1970, and raised his daughter to be a “beaver believer” as well. When it came time for her to pick a school, it was a natural choice to attend Oregon State University. And after graduating from Bend High School in 1996, Anderson enrolled at Oregon State.
However, her time at Oregon State was more than just about getting a great education. Anderson swam on the swim team, and joined a sorority; she learned the importance of being a part of a team, teamwork and social participation. “I was a member of Kappa Delta sorority and that allowed me leadership opportunities and skills that have also helped me in my career.” Outside her studies at Oregon State, Anderson used her time to give back to the Corvallis community. “Volunteering in a variety of elementary schools during my education at OSU helped me to learn what it was like to be a teacher and prepared me for working in schools in different settings.”
Anderson launched her teaching career in Maryland, and moved back to Oregon with her husband after six years on the east coast. She later obtained her Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from George Fox University and her Graduate Certificate in Teacher Leadership from Johns Hopkins University. Continuing in her scholarship (while also teaching fulltime), Anderson is a current doctoral candidate at Walden University in the Educational EdD program.
As a Reading and Math Intervention teacher at Juniper Elementary in Bend, Oregon, she realizes that all of those late nights and long hours of work and study are well worth the time and effort. But even in those difficult moments she remains optimistic and says, “I stay positive on hard days by remembering my focus and the reasons I teach. I also believe that my positive outlook impacts my students and I want to be a good example for them on a daily basis.”
And as she helps to navigate the next generation of educators into their professions, Anderson motivates them by saying, “Teaching is important! You are valued and appreciated by your community. Teaching is a rewarding job that can be challenging and overwhelming at times, however it is worth every moment.”
Anderson explores every new opportunity as she looks toward the future. “Educational technology has impacted my job by providing resources for students that need additional support, creative outlets and as an extension for children that need challenges in my classroom,” she says. Furthermore, her students will never be left behind on any front, “My school has an annual Juniper Film Festival where every classroom makes a student-created movie and then we celebrate the end of the year with a large celebration.” And if that was not enough, Anderson works for every student’s tomorrow, “We teach our elementary students basic coding, problem solving, and collaboration skills utilizing educational technology.”
In the end, there is no magic shortcut to being a successful teacher, but Anderson knows what it takes: “Be positive, work hard and you can make a difference in your classroom and community.” If that is not enough, she does have one simple equation to push our aspiring teachers onward, “Effective effort + Strategies = Success.”