Courtney Dinwiddie

OKC Energy goalkeeper Cody Laurendi helps students as they use commonly found materials to build soccer goals and operate goalies to see who could block the greatest number of penalty kicks. Heritage Elementary 2019 Teacher of the Year Courtney Dinwiddie helps students, clockwise from left: Dylan Keehn (with iPad), Carson Phillips, Jerrin Andreoni and Brady Callender.

Heritage Elementary’s 2019-20 Teacher of the Year Courtney Dinwiddie loves to watch her third graders find out who they are, but she also helps them in that journey.

“There are two rules in my classroom,” Dinwiddie said. “They are work hard and be kind.”

“Courtney Dinwiddie challenges her students and herself to learn, learn, learn,” said Principal Cathey Bugg. “Continually she incorporates technology into her lessons and engages her students in project-based learning. Walking into her classroom you might see her students designing and building soccer goals with movable goalies that attempt to block shots, or comparing and contrasting elements of Native American designs as they study Oklahoma.

Courtney was honored last fall as an Oklahoma Energy Teacher of the Game and is a trainer for Bridges in Mathematics. She provides math technology resources to third grade teachers across the district. 

In 2018 Courtney received an American Fidelity Teacher Fellowship. 

“These teacher fellows worked in American Fidelity’s software development, enterprise information management, or technical infrastructure areas then took this experience back to the classroom to help students learn about and prepare for careers in technology,” Bugg said. “Courtney truly embodies our Heritage mission: Learning to be Heroes.”

Dinwiddie has taught at Heritage since it opened five years ago, and prior to that she taught at Soaring Heights Elementary in Joplin, Mo., for one year before relocating to Edmond.

“When looking to relocate to Oklahoma, Edmond was my number one choice for employment because of teacher pay and overall job satisfaction,” Dinwiddie said.

Dinwiddie said she actively tried not to go into teaching because teaching is notorious for its low pay.

“But I just kept coming back to it,” Dinwiddie said. “I love getting to know my students and watching them find who they are.”

Dinwiddie shared, “Everyone has a story of a teacher who changed their life, and I have that, too, but the most influential person(s) have been the people I teach with every day.”

She said she is constantly learning from her students and they inspire her to always do more than what she did the day before.

“I think so much of my job is teaching students how to be problem solvers,” Dinwiddie said. “In today’s world so much information can be looked up online, but problem solving is a skill that can get kids far in life.”

In a recent STEM lesson which was part of a soccer interdisciplinary unit conducted during the month of September, OKC Energy goalkeeper Cody Laurendi helped students as they used commonly found materials to build soccer goals and operate goalies who could block the greatest number of penalty kicks. 

“The teams created designs, tested them, and modified them to improve efficiency,” Dinwiddie said.

Many of her teaching methods are inspired by a quote hanging above her desk. 

“I absolutely love it,” she said. “It is a quote from Haim Ginott and it says, ‘I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. 

“I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.”

“There are two rules in my classroom,” Dinwiddie said. “They are work hard and be kind.”

She said her students have taught her a lot of things ranging from Fortnite dances to patience. 

“It all just depends on the weather of the day,” Dinwiddie said.

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