Heather Hughes-Leck

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What the nominator said:

Heather Hughes-Leck is a dedicated teacher with a focus on fostering social responsibility in her students. In her English and sociology classes she encourages students to see themselves as “difference makers” and to engage in conversations about injustice and exploitation. Students are empowered to have opinions and see themselves as part of the solution. Ms. Hughes-Leck is inclusive of all students in her classroom and ensures that the curriculum is accessible for all.

During the March Break, Ms. Hughes-Leck accompanies a group of students from the school on a service-oriented trip to the Dominican Republic. The students live and work in cane-cutting areas, helping to build communities and provide much-needed supplies to the people. Students always return with a different sense of the world they live in as a result.

Ms. Hughes-Leck is the staff advisor for the Eco Club and the Human Rights Club, two influential groups in our school. Ms. Hughes-Leck and the club members are responsible for activities and information campaigns that broaden the awareness about the environment, our global responsibility and the need to focus on the wider world beyond the school walls.

What tips do you have for parents on how they can help prepare their kids to get the most out of the school day?

The best advice I can give parents is to stop hovering over their children. Children learn from taking risks, failing and suffering the natural consequences of their actions. We need to let children know that it is okay to fail and give them the tools to deal with this failure. I see students in high school who have no resiliency and fall apart when they are challenged or when things do not go their way. Take off the bubble wrap—kids don’t break!

If you win, how will you allocate the Teacher Awards prize money?:

I have so many ideas! My priority would be the projects that the DHS Human Rights Interact Club and Eco Club undertake. This would include donations and support to Pasos de Esperanza Dominican Republic, which is the group we have had the pleasure of working with in the Dominican Republic for the last two years. I would also want to invest in some environmental projects at DHS.

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