Some people study for years to become one. Others fall into it by chance. Helen Hesenperger, however, was born to be a teacher.
“Helen grew up in an old schoolhouse,” said her father, John Bradshaw. “When we first moved in, the original chalkboards were still on the wall. Helen started teaching her sister and the other neighborhood kids and never looked back.”
The Knights of Columbus officially recognized Helen Hesenperger as Teacher of the Year at its annual banquet on April 29 at the Columbian Center.
“Helen exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding faith-based school teacher,” said Larry Brundin, grand knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 3413. “She’s known for her creativity, enthusiasm and love for her students.”
Nominated by her peers as well as the leadership at St. John the Evangelist School, Hesenperger has been teaching at the Severna Park institution for 16 years.
“Being a teacher is like getting an award every day!” enthused Hesenperger, who teaches second grade. “But being recognized by an organization like the Knights of Columbus encourages me even more.”
Known for re-enacting scenes from “The Polar Express” with her class at Christmas, Hesperger is an alumnus of St. John the Evangelist School.
“The best way to educate a child is to include morals and God,” she added. “Prayer helps my students get through tough times. And the little things my students do inspire my faith.”
St. John has a long history of academic excellence, consistently ranking as one of the top performing schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Former students have graduated from universities like Princeton, Villanova, Georgetown and Notre Dame.
At the banquet, other pillars of the community were also honored.
“It’s an honor to be recognized,” said Paul Heward, Fireman of the Year.
Recovering from shoulder surgery, Heward has been with Earleigh Heights Firehouse since 1982. A graduate of Old Mill High School, he resides in Gambrills with his wife, Kari, and three sons.
EMS of the Year went to Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company member Daniel Collumb, who was recognized for his lifesaving skills that resulted in a successful resuscitation on October 15, 2018. Policeman of the Year was awarded to John Gerczak of Glen Burnie for his bravery and dedication in fighting the ongoing opioid epidemic.
“Teachers are held to a higher standard than most,” summarized Brad Zell, community chair for the Knights of Columbus. “The law is a teacher. Bravery is a teacher. All the virtues on display here today are teachers. And that’s why the Knights are so happy to recognize these particular men and women.”