Heather Brekke teaches first grade at Basha Elementary. She started working at the school in 2003 after beginning her career in her home state of South Dakota. Brekke left Arizona in 2016 and taught in Florida for two years. When she moved back to the Valley she also returned to Basha Elementary.
Brekke says she first thought about becoming a teacher when she was a senior in high school. She helped out in a first-grade classroom, and the teacher she assisted opened her eyes to a career in education. But at that time Brekke did not want to teach first grade herself, she admits. Later Brekke discovered that “I absolutely love teaching kindergarten and first grade!”
According to Blair, who nominated Brekke, “My teacher cares for her students. She makes learning fun and exciting.”
Brekke believes that education is a partnership between parents and teachers. As much as she inspires students, students can also impact her.
“A few years ago, I had a little girl that just had a hard time at school. Her mornings before school were kind of rough and it took her a little bit to settle in for our day,” recalls Brekke.
At the end of the year “we were writing about our year (and) she wanted me to read hers to myself, and it said, ‘My favorite part about school is my teacher because she always makes me feel safe and I know she loves me.’ That made me tear up and I gave her the biggest hug I have ever given a child.” Brekke says, “I made sure that every day she knew that this was a safe place for her to grow and learn. Mistakes were ok, bad days were ok and being upset and mad were ok...but she was loved.”
Brekke says that while the student doesn't attend Basha anymore, “I miss her like crazy. I wonder how she is...I wish her all the love in the world and hope she feels my big hug to this day.”
Brekke plans to visit her home state this summer and complete a 110-mile bike ride with her husband. They have been training by riding 25 to 30 miles several times a week, Brekke reports.
When Brekke is not in the classroom or on a bicycle, you might find her in the kitchen. “I got into cooking over the pandemic,” she explains, and she says she enjoys trying new recipes.