2015 - Lauren Heil

A LaRue County High School educator of 42 years was named winner of the district’s 2015 WHAS-11 and LG&E KU ExCEL Award.

Lauren Heil, teacher of functionally mentally disabled students at LaRue County High School, poses for a picture with LaRue County High School Principal Kyle Goodlett Thursday after learning she was selected to received the 2015 WHAS-11 and LG&E KU ExCEL Award.

Lauren Heil, 63, of Upton, said out of her career, nothing compares to the joy in receiving this award.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said.

Heil is in her fourth year of teaching all grades in special education at the high school and her eighth year teaching in Kentucky. Prior to coming to Kentucky in 2007, Heil had a career in education in Illinois. She earned a Bachelor of Science in education in 1973 from Northern Illinois University and her Master of Arts with distinction in teacher leadership in 2002 from North Park University in Chicago.

While in Illinois, Heil taught at the Special Education District of Lake County and the Center for Proviso Area Exceptional Children in Maywood, Illinois. Heil also has taught at the Central Learning Center in Henderson, Kentucky.

“The impact Mrs. Heil has had on students over the course of her career as an educator cannot be measured,” said LaRue County Principal Kyle Goodlett. “Just in the short three years I have had the opportunity to work with her, I am astounded at the things she does every single day to make the lives and education of our students second to none.”

Heil said when she’s teaching her students, she always visualizes her students’ parents sitting next to them.

“I try to teach everyone with respect,” she said.

She said some people tend to think special needs students have restrictions other students don’t have, but for Heil, all students are able to achieve anything they set their mind to.

“I believe that there’s no limit to what they can do,” she said.

In just four years of instruction at the high school, it’s evident Heil’s dedication and passion for educating students has been noticed.

“The Meriam-Webster dictionary defines a teacher as ‘one who instructs others in a specific subject or content,’” LaRue County teacher Darrel Stillwell said in an email. “Mrs. Lauren Heil, however, surpasses the definition of a teacher. Mrs. Heil exerts every inch of her kind heart and loving energy to provide the resources, opportunities and education her students need to achieve their goals and dreams. Each day she is faced with challenges, but also celebrations of accomplishments, all with a welcoming smile and a friendly hug. I commend her for her tireless dedication, her positive attitude, and her aspiration to impact the lives of her students. Mrs. Heil is more than deserving to be named the 2015 LCHS Ex-CEL nominee, and I speak for the entire LCHS faculty when I say it is an honor to be able to work with, and learn from, Mrs. Lauren Heil.”

Prior to being selected for the award, Heil completed an extensive application including essays, had interviews and announced and unannounced classroom observations.

“Working with Mrs. Heil has been such a blessing and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to know her and work together with her,” said instructional aide Sarah Caven. “I enjoy seeing the way she cares for our students by pushing them to do their best effort on every task given to them. She wants her students to know that they have unlimited potential and that they are capable of doing things that maybe they were told they couldn’t do. Her countless hours of planning and preparing lessons are evident in our daily assignments to meet the needs of each student, because our class is so diverse this is more challenging than one may think and she does it flawlessly.”

Heil will be honored at 9 a.m. March 25 at the high school for receiving the award.

By Anna Taylor