Barnwell Teacher Heather Tomicich Wins GAM Outstanding Educator Award

Posted on 10/20/2016

Gifted students deserve a gifted teacher, and that’s exactly what Barnwell Middle School, part of the Francis Howell School District, has to offer. Heather Tomicich, a Barnwell teacher, won the Delma Johnson Outstanding Educator of the Gifted Award at the Gifted Association of Missouri (GAM) Conference in October. What makes this award even more special is that nominations come from former students and parents, showing a teacher’s true impact on the child’s education.

Tomicich teaches Spectra at Barnwell, and it is the time and effort she puts in that proves her love of the program and sets her apart. Her principal, Dave Eckhoff, knows what she means to the kids in Spectra. “Mrs. Tomicich is a dedicated teacher who works to meet the many needs of the students in her program,” Eckhoff said. “In addition to her classroom responsibilities, she sponsors an award winning robotics program.”

That robotics program has won plenty of awards and recognitions along the way, including going to the First Lego League World Championship of Robotics in 2015. The club gives students an opportunity to learn about science and engineering in a fun way – by building and programming robots. But it is the daily effect she has on students that truly makes a difference.

In a recent Facebook post Tomicich said, “It has always been important to me to make a difference in the lives of gifted students because it is a population that is often misunderstood. I constantly advocate for what's best for my students, hoping that I instill in them the power to be a lifelong learner and to advocate for themselves in the future. One of the best feelings a teacher can have is when their former students or parents return and tell you how much you affected their lives, or children's lives, for the better. It is an amazing reminder why teachers get into this profession.”

After serving GAM in multiple capacities and attending conferences since 2001, she was fully cognizant of the many people who helped her develop her skills for the benefit of the kids in her program. “I did fairly well until the end,” she said, “when I looked out in the audience at gifted colleagues that I had worked with, and remembered students from years past. It was a wonderful feeling and it got the best of me.”

Tomicich is greatly appreciative of all the support she has received, and even more grateful for the support her gifted and robotics students have been given over the years. “It means the world to me,” she said. “These Barnwell students and parents will always hold a special place in my heart, and I hope I get to tell them that I am truly grateful for being a part of their lives.”


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