Glacier Valley cheers Heagy

Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2010

Alaska's Teacher of the Year was led into Glacier Valley Elementary's gymnasium Wednesday in front of singing students, looking a bit overwhelmed.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Lorrie Heagy, music teacher and librarian at the school, was recently named the state's top teacher for 2010.

Students welcomed Heagy into the gymnasium with a song she taught them that has the words "Welcome my friends, I great you with peace."

Principal Ted Wilson told the students their teacher had done a lot of work with programs and instruments at the school, including bringing in drums, violins, recorders and even saving pianos.

Heagy showed the video she assembled as part of her application to the state, which featured classroom clips of different music and reading activities. In the video, she can be seen reading a story to students and then questioning them about her style - such as creating spacing for dramatic effect. Other clips show her working with students on drumming rhythms or teaching dance moves.

Heagy said the state was looking at four key elements for the award - how well she works with parents, the community, collaborates with other teachers and with all kinds of students.

"Glacier Valley is the perfect place to make all of those things happen," she said. "Thank you for sharing this award with me."

The students had their own offering for Heagy. Each student wrote a page about what they love about Heagy and why they think she deserves the award. Each class assembled the pages into bound books and presented them Wednesday. Some students gave her a glimpse of what was inside by reading their page in front of the assembly. Another gave her a bouquet of flowers.

One student appreciated Heagy's Sounds of History.

"When you read I imagine the picture," she said. "It feels so real."

Other's valued Heagy's music lessons and like playing with her.

"Thank you for teaching us how to play the drums," one boy read. "You are the best teacher. You are cool and you have a beautiful voice. I like when you play the drums - the sound of it and the beat."

Nancy Peel, fourth and fifth grade teacher, also praised Heagy.

"As a teacher, you make all of us better," Peel said. "Everyone has those days where you get out of bed and think, 'I don't think I can do this another day, what am I going to do today?' And then we watch you and we're inspired."

Heagy was also presented a quilt by librarian and humanities teacher Susan Sielbach and physical education teacher Susie Denton. The quilt has little heart patches, which formed an even bigger heart. Wilson said each student also had a hand in it.

"I will cherish all of these," Heagy said of the books, flowers and quilt.

Heagy most recently brought Juneau Alaska Music Matters, an El Sistema-based approach to teaching violin to kindergarteners, to Glacier Valley. She also started the Art is Elementary program, which won the Kennedy Center Creative Ticket National School of Distinction Award for excellence in arts and academics. Those two initiatives are just two of many arts efforts at the school.

Aside from all the music and arts programs and equipment Heagy has either brought herself to the school, or had a hand in, the Glacier Valley Parent Group is also impressed with the funds she's brought to the school.

Katrina Laneville, an Art is Elementary parent volunteer, has been researching how much money Heagy has raised since she started teaching at Glacier Valley in 2002. Laneville said they ran out of time and haven't got a complete picture. However since 2004, Heagy has written grants to help raise money for the arts at Glacier Valley - to the tune of $87,068. Laneville said Heagy has also found other funding for programs by asking for donations and having multiple fundraisers. Since 2005, the amount raised through those methods is almost $230,000.

For more information about Art is Elementary go to

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at

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