Hamilton Awarded First Ever National University System-Sanford Teacher Award and $10,000

Lily MacLean, Reporter

Heidi Hamilton, a special education teacher at Arrowhead, was named the Wisconsin recipient of the National University System-Sanford Teacher Award. This year was the debut year of the award.

According the the National University System, one teacher from each state, and the District of Columbia, received $10,000 for creating a motivational and united classroom that encourages their students to grow emotionally and academically.

The award is named after philanthropist T. Denny Sanford. He is committed to supporting inspirational teaching nationwide.

The National University System also states the recipients were selected by a committee of educators. The application process included nominations and information provided by every teacher to determine which applicants had the required characteristics. These characteristics included enthusiasm for teaching, empathy, kindness towards students, and creating a positive learning environment.

In an interview with Spectrum News, Hamilton says, “You don’t do this profession for the money or to get recognized, you do it because you want to make a difference in someone’s life. Like you said, to get that recognition is special and it’s humbling and it’s…I’m honored, very honored.”

Hamilton was nominated by fellow Arrowhead teacher, Elizabeth Jorgensen. Jorgensen co-teaches Creative Writing with Hamilton.

“I wanted to honor Mrs. Hamilton for the awesome work she does with all students. She is such a patient, compassionate and inspirational teacher. I am fortunate to work with her. She not only motivates me, but also each one of her students, to be better every single day,” Jorgensen says.

According to a National University System press release, the attributes these teachers have are part of Sanford’s vision for education-focused programs. These programs are currently expanding nationally through the private nonprofit National University System. The Sanford Programs include Sanford Harmony, a program for pre-K-6 students, a social emotional learning program to aid students in developing communication and teamwork skills, and the PreK-12 Sanford Inspire program that offers teachers resources and lessons to build motivating classroom experiences.

And this isn’t Hamilton’s first academic award. On October 10th, Hamilton received the Advanced Career Teacher Award given by the Education Deans of Greater Milwaukee.

Jorgensen says, “Mrs. Hamilton goes above and beyond for each of her students. The awards she’s received just speak to the kind of educator she is. She is awesome, inspiring and amazing. Every day, she has each student’s best interest at heart and she works relentlessly to help each student to reach his or her potential.”

The teacher recipients of the National University System-Sanford Teacher Award qualified for a chance to be recognized as the Sanford Teacher Award national winner. The winner will be announced towards the beginning of 2019. The national winner will receive an award of $50,000.

Jorgensen says, “I am so proud of Mrs. Hamilton. This award is a huge honor and the entire school and community are so proud of her.”