For Heather Koonce, teaching a lifelong dream

Published 11:56 am Thursday, December 30, 2021

Heather Koonce, a history teacher at Vinton Middle School, set her sights on becoming a teacher when she was a child and has never looked back. “It was in the first grade when I realized I wanted to be a teacher,” she said.

“When I was six or seven I decided and I’ve never changed my major.”

Koonce, a native of Sulphur, said her own teachers, particularly her first grade teacher, had a significant impact on her career choice. “I’ve always had really good teachers along the way and wanted to be like them. I’m a product of CPSB.”

Email newsletter signup

Koonce said the fond memories of her own school days serve as strong motivators to be an exemplary teacher. “It’s building the relationships and memories. Things I remember from when I was six or seven like Halloween or Johnny Appleseed…I’ve always hung onto those dear moments. I just remember thinking, ‘How special those teachers were,’ and hoping maybe someone will remember me that way.”

In addition to her memories, Koonce said that Darlene Peebles and Lauren Giffin, were early mentors at her first teaching job at Moss Bluff Middle School. “They really took me under their wing…I’ve always been a natural born leader but they were really my first mentors.”

While she recalls her first day on the job as filled with nerves, the overwhelming feeling was one of great fulfillment. “It was like dreams do come true. A full circle moment because I never wanted to do anything else.”

If given the chance to have a wish granted for the education profession, Koonce said she wishes the general public understood that teaching is a noble profession. “It’s so much more than the curriculum but it’s the whole kid I teach,” she said.

“There’s the emotional attachment. Things you still worry about when the children leave. There are things the general public doesn’t see…Buying clothes, food, school fees— things we don’t do for the glory. There are teachers out there who try to make the kids’ lives better not just in the sense of education.”

While Koonce said she’s often working including traveling with students to living history sites like the White House, she also enjoys cooking and visiting friends.