Student council, biology and anatomy teacher Theresa Dollinger recently received the Heart of a Teacher Award this month. She has been teaching for 23 years and has taught in the district for 15 of them.
At A Glance:
Go to morning drink: Unsweet peach mango tea or water
Favorite subject in school growing up: Math and science
Favorite genre of music: Country to rap, heavy metal to praise/worship
TRL: What is your favorite thing about the district?
TD: I have been in Lovejoy since the high school opened, and I love seeing the kids grow under the attributes of the graduate profile. I love that we are able to and encouraged to build relationships with our students and not just teach them. The connections that I have built with students have lasted a longtime and hopefully a lifetime.
TRL: What does winning the Heart of a Teacher Award mean to you?
TD: It is always an honor and privilege to be recognized for all the hard work and effort you put into a job. I love my job and love my students but it is challenging. I love that Dr. Goddard and the school board appreciates us and values our hard work.
TRL: What is your goal as a teacher?
TD: I want every student to feel that they are safe and have someone to talk to. I want to build connections with students so they have trust in me. The learning and content pieces will usually fall into place.
TRL: Do you have a motto you live by?
TD: No actual motto. I have learned that it is important to be nice to everyone, to listen to people with an open mind and heart, and that forgiveness is our saving grace. I am extremely blessed, and I can not take that for granted. Flexibility is key too. God has a way of showing you what you need.
TRL: What does being a teacher mean to you?
TD: I love being a teacher. I want to be someone they look up to, can trust and go to [for] advice. Teachers can be a positive adult presence in a student’s life and we should be good role models. I hope that my students look back and see that I have made an impact in and on their life. It is the best feeling when a former student reaches out to me to share where they are in life, share their successes, and make a point to reconnect. I keep in touch with students from my first year of teaching to kids that graduated last year. Hearing from them, seeing them graduate college, get jobs, getting married and having kids is one of my favorite things. I have graduation announcements, wedding invites, baby announcements, business cards hanging up in my room to look at. These give me encouragement, inspiration, and happiness. I think it helps my current students to see their achievements and see that students can create a connection with their teachers.