The following is a press release from the Springfield School District.
The Springfield School District December Employee of the Month is Dawn Heckman, a third grade teacher at Sabold Elementary School. Dawn, originally from Pittsburgh, earned her Bachelor’s degree in social work from Eastern Nazarene College (ENC) in Boston. Dawn remained in Boston as a social worker for seven years. Her first teaching position was with the Boston City Schools as a special education teacher to autistic children. Dawn went back to ENC to earn her Master’s degree and teaching certifications in elementary and special education. After seven years teaching in Boston, she returned to her alma-mater, ENC, to be the Dean of Students, a position she held for seven years. Dawn moved to the Philadelphia area when she started working at Sabold 14 years ago.
Dawn's classroom is not your typical classroom. She engages her students in such a way that she refers to it as "Camp Heckman." Dawn said, “I call the room Camp Heckman because I didn't learn well in school, but I learned so much at camp because the counselors were so willing to explain things multiple times and ways, so the classroom is decked out with five foot pine trees and animals galore, complete with a flying squirrel soaring over the desks and the cabin porch with its deck, roof and Adirondack chair – I want the kids to love coming here.” Dawn prides herself on keeping a safe environment for her students to learn, grow and have fun. When Dawn is not in school, she really enjoys carpentry and volunteering in humanitarian efforts to build wells to supply fresh drinking water to villages in Africa.
The faculty and staff at Sabold were quick to recognize Dawn for her commitment to teaching. Third grade team member Stephanie Santella said, “Dawn is one of the most genuine and selfless people that I have ever met and is the most creative teacher I know. She captivates her students and her peers as soon as she starts talking.” Jaclyn O’Hanlon added, “Dawn has the amazing ability to turn any lesson into the most fun, engaging, and creative experience for her students.” Principal Cindy Mattei concluded by saying, “Dawn goes out of her way to make her classroom a very special place for her students. From camp shirts to moose droppings the students are transported to a dynamic and unique learning environment. Her enthusiasm for learning and creativity continues through the last day of school – Students never forget Ms. Heckman.” For all these reasons and many more, we are proud to recognize Dawn Heckman as the Springfield School District December Employee of the Month.