PEARCY – Lake Hamilton High School library specialist Jil’lana Heard says she is “honored” to be one of the 12 regional finalists for Arkansas Teacher of the Year award.
Library media specialists have only been inducted into Arkansas Teacher of the Year for the past two years.
“It’s super exciting to be one of the library media specialists that is included,” said Heard.
Heard said it was an honor not only to be selected by the high school and district, but also to be a finalist in the Dawson Educational Co-op. “It is an honor, especially at this time, during the pandemic, when education was really paramount and teachers are being asked to do things that are outside of their comfort zone to make sure we meet all of the children’s needs.” . So this year is especially an honor, “said Heard.
Heard was named High School Teacher of the Year, then District Teacher of the Year, and is now a regional finalist. Each of the country’s 12 educational cooperatives has a regional finalist. Lake Hamilton is part of the Dawson Ed Co-op.
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Heard said one of the most important things to her is early literacy, so it was part of the platform she chose to apply for the award because educators have found children without the required early reading and writing skills Writing skills come into kindergarten and elementary school.
The lack of skills “puts them back as we continue to try to teach them, skills they would normally have, like in third and fourth grades as they move from learning to reading and reading to learning where they are “Accepting this information as their learning process, and they do not have the skills necessary to do so,” Heard said.
Heard said she sees children come to her without the skills they need to be educated adults.
“It is very important to me that we address these early reading and writing skills so that we can make sure we meet the needs of the students early enough so that they can make the transition to where they digest all of this content when so when they go to secondary school they can read so that when they read science and technology and read their English novels then they can understand what they are. I really read, “said Heard.
“I had a wonderful foundation. My education got me where I am today,” said Heard, a graduate of Lake Hamilton.
The only person to whom Heard attributes her success is Diane Hughes, who was Heard’s mentor as a library media specialist. She said Hughes was the one who showed her what it really means to be a librarian and build a reading culture.
“I took away a lot of what she taught me and learned and then grew and conveyed some of the things I learned from her,” she said.
Education and reading are crucial because they determine a student’s success, she said.
“If a student can read, the possibilities are proven to be endless. (There are) job, career and college choices, ”Heard said.
One of the finalists last year was a library media specialist, which was exciting for her job.
“To be chosen as the winner would be phenomenal. I would represent not only the Lake Hamilton School District and the community that made me who I am today, but all library media specialists around the state, as well as other phenomenal educators in this extremely difficult year of the pandemic, “said Heard.
“On behalf of the Lake Hamilton School District, I congratulate Ms. Jil’Lana Heard for earning her position as regional finalist for Arkansas Teacher of the Year. Ms. Heard is an excellent representative for our district and our community. Her continued Dedication to excellence, along with her passion and energy for her job, make Jill a great choice for Arkansas Teacher of the Year. We look forward to wholeheartedly supporting Mrs. Heard as she progresses through the next round. ” it says in a congratulatory post on the district’s Facebook page.
“Congratulations to our own, Jil’lana Heard, on her nomination as the regional winner of the Arkansas Teacher of the Year competition. Jil’lana loves students who have mastered the most basic academic skill: reading. She is a qualified teacher a published author and expert who guides and inspires students and adults with different backgrounds and abilities to learn. She is respected and admired by her students, colleagues and the Lake Hamilton School District community. She shows leadership and innovation both within and within beyond the walls of the traditional classroom. I can’t think of a person who fits the Arkansas Teacher of the Year shape better than our Lake Hamilton High School media specialist, Jil’Lana Heard, “said Donald Westerman, Principal of LHHS, in the mail .