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Gail Hefti for Educator of the Year

Middle school children are more than a handful. To handle the little hellions, the teachers need to be overly patient, yet entirely assertive. The hardships middle school teachers endure are endless, from managing kids with short attention spans to encouraging children with a terrible home life. It is a gift that appears strongly in the classroom and at the home. One woman that portrays an inspiring presence in the classroom is Gail Hefti, the art teacher at Slinger Middle School.
Thinking about what Mrs. Hefti has had to tolerate for her career makes me shudder. But, with twelve years of experience under her belt, she can handle the immature 13-year-old boys who tape shredded paper to their faces, trying to make a beard. Mrs. Hefti helps these children discover their hidden potential. Instead of only representing the talented kids’ artwork on the hallway walls, she hangs all of the pieces where students went beyond their set standards. She knows by doing this, she boosts the student’s confidence and encourages them to keep working to the best of their ability.
Mrs. Hefti has designed a mural with an underwater theme to be created with multi-colored ceramic tiles that will be in the front foyer of the school. Mrs. Hefti believes in creating opportunities, such as the mural, for enthusiastic students to stretch themselves because she knows the motivation is possible.
Any artist would agree music helps the imagination flow effortlessly. Mrs. Hefti lets the inspiration loose by allowing her class to listen to her limited favorite groups. The kids used to whine and groan about having to listen to Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown CD everyday. Whenever she has the opportunity, she clicks the stereo on and grooves to the eccentric piano melody. Eventually, the students grew to love it and associate the Peanuts with their beloved art teacher. Mrs. Hefti is like Linus. I’m not saying she sits with her thumb in her mouth and carries around a security blanket. But, like Linus, Mrs. Hefti is thoughtful, outspoken, and serene.
Mrs. Hefti is a creative and social woman, hence her occupation. However, she is not only a devoted middle school teacher, but most importantly, Gail Hefti is an artist, a metal-smith, and my loving mother.





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