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Schmitt honored as Heritage’s ‘Teacher of the Year’

MADISON – To say that Michelle Schmitt is a ‘busy person’ is an understatement.

Heritage Elementary School has recognized Schmitt as Teacher of the Year.

A Lighthouse Team member, she leads School Environment and Science Fair committees. Schmitt sponsors Archery Club and co-sponsors K-2 Art Club. Schmitt teaches special education students in Extended School Year Service’s summer program.

A Heritage PTA member, Schmitt volunteers for school events. She mentors new teachers, works with extended day program and volunteers at Camp Autism Smiles.

Five years ago, Schmitt moved to Madison and started her career in education as a special education teacher at Heritage. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with dual bachelor’s degrees in elementary and collaborative education.

“I wanted to be a part of this growing community with excellent schools,” Schmitt said.

In her first year of teaching, Schmitt asked her students to vote on classroom rules. “It was unanimous,” she said. “Rule number one – always do your best. I believe a student, no matter their abilities, can improve each and every day, if they put forth their best effort.”

“If you set high but obtainable expectations for students, they will rise to the challenge. I believe students learn best in a safe and comfortable environment with people that they trust and have a meaningful relationship with,” Schmitt said.

She cites the proverb about taking a village to raise a child. “Students best learn when they see their teachers and parents as a united force to help them grow and learn,” Schmitt said. “My ultimate goal is to help nurture responsible, thoughtful, compassionate and productive citizens for our community.”

To reach that goal, students need individualized goals and corresponding instruction, Schmitt said.

Schmitt believes every teacher needs at least one person in the building that gives support. In her first year, she needed all the help and support available. “I had 1,001 questions. Ollie Collins answered every last one.”

“Ollie was always the calm in the storm and my rock. She always had a funny story; I laughed every time. Ollie reminded me that we were a team and could get through any situation. Ollie was a fountain of knowledge. She helped make me a better teacher,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt’s 13-year-old twins, Violet and Kalina Schmitt, attend Liberty Middle School and will enter eighth grade.

Schmitt cherishes time with her family, along with traveling, camping, hiking, biking, crafting, baking, reading and attending local events.

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