Brittany Rees and Marissa Heyer Receive 2021 Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award

Posted on 10/11/2021
Brittany Rees (left) and Marissa Heyer (right)



Barnwell Middle School Math Teacher Brittany Rees and Francis Howell North High School FACS (Family and Consumer Science Education) Teacher Marissa Heyer received the 2021 Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award. This award recognizes teachers in the St. Louis metropolitan area who serve as examples of excellence in their field.

Brittany Rees has always gone above and beyond to ensure the success of both her students and colleagues. Over the years, Rees has taken on countless leadership, training, and curriculum roles in the District with a desire to make math classes meaningful for students.

“Her pursuit has always been to build a classroom community that allows for math to feel approachable and attainable for all students, no matter if they are in Math 8, Algebra, or Geometry, and to create a classroom which welcomes risk taking, teamwork, and inclusivity,” said Assistant Principal Erin Thurston.

With the effects of the pandemic, Rees has also played an important role in the success of virtual learning within the District. While serving as a virtual teacher and the WEB sponsor at Barnwell, she organized events and activities to help virtual learners feel connected to the school community. 

In addition, she utilized her Masters in Educational Technology to make virtual learning accessible and interactive for students, while also providing strategies and tools for District virtual teachers.

Whether she is teaching in a physical classroom or a virtual one, Rees always wants the best for her students.

“My favorite aspect of teaching is the energy of the kids and what they bring to my classroom,” shared Rees. “I appreciate their enthusiasm for learning that sometimes as adults we kind of lose as we go on.”

Marissa Heyer is known for her dedication to building positive and long-lasting relationships with the students and families at FHN. She inspires her students every day to be lifelong learners and stresses the importance of critical thinking and problem solving.

She has served as an instructional leader at FHN by sharing CITW (Classroom Instruction That Works) best practices and has become well-respected amongst her colleagues for the example she sets in her own classroom. Heyer implements creative and relevant lessons that connect to students’ backgrounds and engage students with the content.

“Every year, I see more students with diverse life experiences entering her classroom and seeking her out because they know Mrs. Heyer is a trusted adult who succeeds in molding a spirit of cohesion among students of various cultures,” said Assistant Principal Chris Birch.

Heyer’s warmth, concern and respect for others has set an example for the community and has encouraged individual and collective responsibility to maintain a positive learning environment at FHN.

“The students are the reason why I am here every day,” shared Heyer. “There is never a dull moment with them. They teach me so much and watching them learn new things and try new things is just absolutely amazing.”

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