Cranbury School names former student 2021 Teacher of the Year

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Heather Christopher (center) is the Cranbury School's 2021 Teacher of the Year. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CRANBURY SCHOOL
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Celebratory cake that the PTO sponsored for the school's faculty staff meeting on May 24. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CRANBURY SCHOOL
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Heather Christopher (center) is the Cranbury School's 2021 Teacher of the Year. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CRANBURY SCHOOL
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Celebratory cake that the PTO sponsored for the school's faculty staff meeting on May 24. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CRANBURY SCHOOL

Heather Christopher’s passion as an educator never wavered in the midst of the pandemic.

As a teacher in her hometown of Cranbury, where she currently resides, and as a former student of the Cranbury School, Christopher’s continued passion for learning and teaching has earned her the school’s Teacher of the Year recognition for 2021.

She earns this distinction in the school where the seed would grow toward her dream of becoming an educator.

“I was speechless and honored. I went to Cranbury School from second grade through eighth grade,” she said. “When I was at the Cranbury School I had so many teachers there that I absolutely adored and who inspired me. I wanted to be a teacher because they were my teachers. To receive this award in my hometown is so special.”

Christopher has been teaching at the Cranbury School for nine of her 21 years of teaching experience. She previously taught in South Brunswick prior to joining the staff at Cranbury School.

“I always wanted to be a teacher, even when I was super young. I used to love to play school with my siblings and teach math, which is a subject I loved,” she said. “Because of the teachers who inspired me, I hoped to inspire someone else. When I went to college that was my only focus. I never wavered off of that path and always wanted to be a teacher, 100%.”

Her selection as the school’s 2021 Teacher of Year was announced during a faculty meeting on May 24. The school’s Teacher of the Year is selected through a selection committee.

Christopher currently is the technology educator and has held several roles within the Cranbury School such as academic support and teaching fifth grade. During her time in South Brunswick, she had also served in various roles.

“Technology has been the bridge to our success over the course of the pandemic. Mrs. Christopher has literally been that bridge to success over the past year,” said Susan Genco, chief school administrator and superintendent. “Day in and day out, Heather has been there to support all of us –  students, teachers, staff and parents. We are grateful for her hard work, kindness and endless patience as we all navigated through this challenging time.”

Christopher teaches technology classes, which includes topics of computer science and coding, and primarily teaches elementary kindergarten through fifth grade. The technology team at the school works with all students who need support, such as if a device is not working correctly and finding solutions needed to fix the device.

“I get to also interact with some of the middle school students. As the technology team we set up classrooms with the technology and we support other teachers and staff in the building,” she said. “That allows me to interact with all of the students K-8.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic threw everyday life upside down for schools, teachers, students and parents across the country, the 2020-21 school year would be a year of learning for Christopher.

“I love to learn. I explored and researched what other districts were doing as well,” she said. “It was learning the different ways to fix Chromebooks, answer emails, help support families and help have instruction remotely, as well as what technology was needed in the classroom when we brought students back into school.”

A challenge for her and the technology was making sure everyone had what they needed.

“Having a device in every child’s hand, second grade through eighth grade, and making sure the devices were working or what I could do to help them, along with my technology team, was a challenge,” Christopher said. “I think collaboration was something that was very strong. I worked with every teacher and with my technology team and we were just able to collaborate and find best practices and best tools needed. I got to a chance to work in the classrooms and integrate technology within the lesson.”

What would also be a highlight for her would be the students’ amazing use of technology and problem-solving ability with the technology, Christopher said.

“I hope students feel my excitement. I am excited to teach the lessons I teach every day,” she said. “Whether it be some coding or when I was teaching reading, writing or math, I try to have the students see the fun in learning, as well as problem solve through challenges and solve them.”