Preschool Teacher in Chicago, IL – Ray Elementary
2023-24 Fellow: Heather Hall is entering her 23rd year teaching for Chicago Public Schools as an Early Childhood teacher. She is a graduate of Indiana University, Chicago State University and Erikson Institute and is a National Board-Certified Teacher with a focus in the teaching of reading.
Heather loves to incorporate art projects into classroom learning activities and takes great joy in fostering students’ creativity and teamwork. Four years ago, Heather moved to teaching preschool after many years of teaching 1st grade. Working with four- and five-year-old students has given her more freedom and flexibility in exploring students’ interest areas. Heather has a great appreciation of food and the impact on the body and mind. She is excited to grow along with her students as they learn about how foods are prepared, and how preferences vary between individuals and cultural groups. Additionally, she is excited to use food to make learning a total sensory experience for her youngest learners. She cannot wait to encourage risk taking and creativity through her work with the Pilot Light Fellowship Cohort.
Favorite Food Education Standard: FES #1: Food Connects Us to Each Other.
This standard resonates the most for me because food is universal. We all need it. We can share it regardless of age, race, cultural background, language, etc. Recently, I traveled to Rome and felt the amazing ways that food was able to ground me. Food was what kept me interacting with the world around me. It was the motivation often for learning new words and having new experiences. We went in search of the best pizza, the best pasta, the best gelato. We connected with the foods of specific regions and supported small business owners. As we did this, we felt connected to the people around us despite our differences.
A Favorite Food Memory or Recipe:
My mother would make sugar cookies for every special event. She used a simple recipe, but had a way of making the cookies like no one else could. I remember bags and bags of cookie cutters. She would make cookies coordinate with birthdays, holidays, graduations, new homes, new babies, you name it. She recently passed away and we made dozens and dozens of cookies to hand out alongside her recipe at her memorial. Decorated sugar cookies will always remind me of my mom and the love she had for others.
Why I Became a Fellow:
I am excited to learn more about cooking and the best methods for food preparation. I am also looking forward to learning about how to use foods that are seasonal and native to the Midwest.