Heidi Thibideau teaches ninth and tenth grade English in the looping program at Portage High School. As her tenth year of teaching comes to a close Thibideau serves as an instructional coach and English Department Chair.
Thibideau loves working and listening to her students.
“I love working with students,” Thibideau said. “I had no idea when I became a teacher how much I would enjoy just being around kids - talking with them, listening to their stories and perspectives, and laughing mostly with them and sometimes at them.”
The looping program at PHS is an opportunity for struggling students to succeed and Thibideau is happy to play a role.
“Being a part of the looping program has been the best part of my teaching career,” Thibideau said. “It's a unique privilege to have students two years in a row and be able to really get to know each other. They show so much growth as students and people during those two years. I also love to see kids who struggled to sort of get going in high school put in the hard work and graduate on time. It's very rewarding to know that we teachers play a small role in that.”
Unsure of what she wanted to do in college Thibideau stumbled upon teaching.
“My grandma, mom, and aunt were all teachers, so there may have been a genetic component to that decision,” Thibideau said. “I thought I would like working with kids and I was really unsure about what I wanted to do when I went to college. As a result, I sort of fell into teaching, but was then lucky enough to fall in love with it.”
Other than her work life to keep her busy Thibideau is married to husband Matt with three kids, Kate, Sam, and Molly. She also gives time to local causes.
“They are excellent company and keep me pretty busy,” Thibideau said. “I also foster dogs for Lakeshore Paws which I find very rewarding. Other than that, I dig being at the beach, reading, working outside, and working on our house. We seem to always have some kind of project going on.”
Teaching for a total of 15 years Thibideau has made many memories but one from a few years back has stayed fresh in her mind.
“I had a student a few years ago who had what he thought was every reason to drop out,” Thibideau said. “He was on the brink of dropping out several times, had several challenges in his family life and not very much support. I just kept talking him out of it all four years of high school. He ended up a mid-term grad, has a good job, and seems happy. Watching him graduate meant a lot to me.”
Thibideau’s pride and positivity is what puts her in the spotlight.
“I am really grateful to teach at PHS,” Thibideau said. “I look forward to going to work every day because I work with the best teachers around and we have great kids in our classes.”