Collinsville High School teacher Heather Johnson was honored with a 2022-23 Smart/Maher VFW Citizenship Education Teacher Award from Caseyville VFW Post 1117 and VFW Illinois District 14.
The purpose of the award is “…to identify and recognize America’s best educators who instill a sense of national pride in students.” VFW annually recognizes the nation’s top classroom teachers who teach citizenship education topics regularly and promote America’s history and traditions effectively.
“This award is very special to me because both of my grandfathers fought in World War II. Also, my dad and father-in-law served in Vietnam. My daughter and son-in-law are also veterans of the USAF,” said Heather Johnson.
“It is important to me that my students learn about the sacrifices and selfless service of our Veterans. I incorporate the Medal of Honor curriculum in both my US History and Government classes. Hearing the stories of our heroes is something I hope our students will remember for years to come,” Johnson added.
Johnson was nominated by CHS Counseling Department Chair Karen Olsen who described her as “student centered, innovative, civic minded, patriotic, and extremely hardworking.”
Excerpt from Johnson’s Nomination
In addition to these school wide initiatives you will find the same passion inside her classroom as she teaches the rules of government, the constitutional principles, and the impact of United States and Illinois history on our current world. She uses a very interactive and inquiry based approach. She truly believes knowledge is power and tries to make history and civics personal to each student. She believes that if students are successful in school both academically and personally it builds the foundation for contributing civic minded citizens.
She is the founder and sponsor for our Youth & Government chapter. Through this experience students learn about the process of state government through direct experience in different roles (page, lobbyist, legislator, etc.). Students have learned a lot through this experience and look forward to it every year. She has also helped with the dedication of our Veterans memorial, the federal naturalization court proceeding we hosted at CHS last year, multiple voting registration drives, etc. She has made CHS a more civic minded school.
Johnson’s achievement was recognized by the local VFW and at the district level, making her a finalist for the state award.
“I attended the VFW meetings to receive my award, and I really enjoyed talking with all of the Veterans and listening to their service stories. They are so appreciative of what teachers do in the classroom every day. They thanked me repeatedly for what I do; however, they are the true heroes,” said Johnson.