First grade teacher shows her ‘Mighty Heart’Mar 09, 2022 04:31PM ● By Becky Ginos
Reading Elementary teacher Courtney Imler surrounded by her first grade class holds a check for $10,000. Imler received the Heidi Martin, Mighty Heart of an Educator Award at a surprise assembly held recently at the school. Courtesy photo
BOUNTIFUL—Being a first grade teacher is a lot of fun – but it’s also hard work. Courtney Imler manages to keep learning fun while helping kids to progress in her class at Reading Elementary. Imler was recognized for her efforts with the Heidi Martin, Mighty Heart of an Educator Award at a surprise assembly held recently at the school.
“She has a unique ability to meet kids where they are emotionally and academically,” said Principal Scott Hughes. “Whatever their home life or past school experience, she makes kids feel successful.”
The award was established by an anonymous donor in honor of Utah resident Heidi Ann Martin who was born with only two chambers in her heart. Martin had her first open heart surgery at just 3 days old and at 24 had a rare heart and liver transplant. She passed away on Jan. 12, 2017, from complications of her condition, a district release said.
Imler received a $10,000 grant to use at her discretion for the betterment of the school.
“Courtney establishes routines and procedures for where the kids should be academically,” Hughes said. “She plans really well and also has a backup plan so there’s no lost learning. She knows what the kids need using data to make sure they’re on the right track.”
It’s all very natural, he said. “It’s a challenge but she makes it feel seamless and effortless but there’s hard work behind it. The kids know they don’t have a choice but to have fun and learn.”
They know they’re loved and cared for, said Hughes. “She establishes routines quickly and makes it really productive so they can learn. When the district team or Superintendent (Reid) Newey visits Reading we go to Courtney’s class.”
Students who were struggling in Kindergarten somehow, magically, stop struggling in first grade, he said. “Anytime I need to showcase the great things happening with learning in our school, I think of Courtney. She is a unique combination of shy and fearless – she would never advertise her own abilities but is very willing and happy to share her ideas, strategies and techniques with others.”
Courtney has a small but very challenging group of students this year, said Hughes in his nomination letter. “One is from a broken home and both parents have a drug problem, but Courtney loves this student anyway. She has advocated for him to get additional support from our family service worker and worked closely with our resource team to make sure his service times were appropriate.”
She carves out part of her prep time to read with him, to reinforce and teach him letter sounds and numbers, and to check on his personal SEL needs, he said. “Courtney is making a positive difference in this child’s life, but this example is not a rare exception. It is the norm. She knows her students, intervenes when needed, and celebrates successes.”
Hughes said he was excited when he got the news Imler had been selected for the award. “She is one of the best teachers I’ve worked with. She just knows what to do.” λ