Dedicated Employee of the Year Award: Congratulations, Karen Heinzmann!
July 29, 2022
Long-time faculty member Karen Heinzmann was honored with the Peters Family Dedicated Employee of the Year award at the year-end ceremonies in June. Initiated by TA educator and alum Ted Peters ’63 in honor of his parents, this annual award spotlights a Thetford Academy employee for their deep commitment to nurture, support, and inspire students and the school community. Known affectionately as ‘Madame’ by generations of students, Karen has been a member of the world languages department for three decades, specializing in the teaching of French language and culture.
Karen’s impact on Thetford Academy expands beyond the French classroom, where she creates an immersive and enthusiastic language environment for beginners and advanced students alike. Over the decades, Karen has coached soccer and track, led the middle school Odyssey of the Mind team to nationals, directed the Woods Trail meet, and led student trips to Quebec, France, Greece, and Italy. These days she helps coordinate the annual honors celebration, supports the senior graduation speakers, and serves on the trails committee. And, in addition to French, this multi-talented educator loves teaching a math class, when one fits into her schedule.
Karen Heinzmann first came to Thetford Academy as a student teacher in Dartmouth’s secondary teacher preparation program in 1990. She had a lucky break when a part-time language position opened up the following school year, and she joined the faculty in 1991. Karen has had a few stints away from TA over the course of three decades, including a graduate program at Middlebury College, a few years teaching English in France, and a Spanish immersion program in Costa Rica – but her path always brings her back to TA.
When asked what has kept her in the profession this long, she exclaims “I am never bored!”. Karen describes her approach to teaching as “creating a space where I am engaged and my students are engaged – it’s a fresh, unique experience every day, and I learn as much from my students as they learn from me.” She shakes her head at the reality of having the sons and daughters of former students in her classes in recent years. It’s a “little crazy – or hallucinant, we’d say in French,” she shares with a chuckle, but quickly adds – “I also love being at a school and in a community for that long!”
Photo: Karen Heinzmann receives the 2022 Dedicated Employee Award at Class Day in June, presented by Head of School Carrie Brennan and long-time TA educator Ted Peters, who created the award upon his retirement in 2002. Ted was pleased to be back on campus and to be able to share this year’s award with a former colleague.