Sally Heidlage, who teaches first and second grade at St. Mary's, was the honored teacher. The students, all 64 of them, applauded her as she received a plaque and a check for $250 from EFCO, a Pella company. Becky Stephens, a training specialist at EFCO, made the presentation.
Several letters nominating Heidlage for the award were received, and in each letter, Heidlage was described as a dedicated teacher who spent extra time outside of the classroom to help her students learn.
"I am honored to receive this award," said Heidlage, who has been teaching for 23 years. "It means a lot that someone took the time to show their appreciation."
Heidlage said she views the award as a reflection of St. Mary's School.
"Our school is so blessed to have parents that really care about their children's educations," continued Heidlage. "Our staff and volunteers, with the support of Father Peter [Morciniec] and our parish, work closely together for the benefit of all of our students. We are not just a school community, we are a school family that cares about and supports each other."
Heidlage is beginning her 17th year of teaching at St. Mary's this fall. She holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar and is certified in physical education for first through ninth grades.
Before joining faculty at St. Mary's, Heidlage was a fourth grade teacher at Pierce City Central Elementary for six years. For three and a half years of her time at St. Mary's, Heidlage has been a teaching principal.
"I love working with children," said Heidlage. "Their outlooks on things are so interesting. I've always wanted to do something that could make a difference in the lives of others."
Heidlage also enjoys working at a parochial school.
"I love being able to include God in every aspect of our students' education," Heidlage said.
In addition to teaching first and second grades, Heidlage teaches music to the younger classes and serves as chairperson of the school's yearbook. She also chairs St. Mary's annual "Angels Among Us" fundraiser.
The $250 Heidlage received for her classroom will be put to good use. The money will be used to support learning center activities, special projects and independent book studies. Heidlage also plans to purchase library books for her classroom.
When Heidlage is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and being outdoors. Heidlage and her husband, Mark, have three daughters, Jamie and Jenny, who are both 24, and Joni, the couple's "little angel in heaven."
The Teacher of the Month program is sponsored by EFCO, a Pella Company, and The Monett Times.
Public or private school teachers in Monett, Purdy, Verona, Pierce City or Freistatt are eligible for the Teacher of the Month award. Nominations can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.