Sevier resident names Hamblen County Teacher of the Year

Jul. 06, 2013 @ 05:36 PM

Sevier County resident Heather Godwin was surprised when her principal at Witt Elementary in Morristown and a parade of employees from the school system's central office entered her classroom carrying balloons.

Godwin, a first-grade teacher, was named pre-K through 4th grade Teacher of the Year for Hamblen County Schools. She said the interruption that day came just as unexpectedly to her students.

"When the director of schools asked if I knew why they were here, one student said, 'Yeah, she got teacher of the week!'"

"Since I got the award, I've been asked to speak at inservices for the county, and it's kind of strange to me because I don't think I do anything specific or have a magic formula," Godwin said. "I just try to instill in every student, 'You can do it.' There are no boundaries in my classroom. By the end of the year, they all know they are capable of learning no matter what else is going on in their lives."

The most rewarding aspect of teaching, Godwin said, are the "aha moments," or when a new concept comes alive for a child. "That's when you know you are doing something right," she added.

Godwin graduated from Tennessee Tech in 2007, and she will embark on her seventh year of teaching in August. Although she has worked at Witt Elementary for two years, she began her career as a second-grade teacher at West Elementary in the same city.

She realized her love for the classroom as a Sunday school teacher at New Era Baptist Church. "I found a deep-rooted passion to help kids, and I felt like it was what God wanted me to do," she said.

Despite her success in the classroom, Godwin is modest about her achievements, and said one of the funniest moments in her career came after a principal evaluation during her first year as an educator.

"I had just finished the lesson, and I was trying to wrap everything up," Godwin said. "I asked if anyone had any questions. A little boy raised his hand and said, 'Ms. Godwin, what are those red spots on your neck?' I had broken out in hives because I was nervous!"

Godwin said her greatest challenge as an educator is intrinsic, as she continually challenges herself to stay abreast on the latest technologies and teaching strategies. "I just try to do always do my best, so I can give my best to my students," she said.

n jfrye@themountainpress.com