Heather Shotke is not your typical “class-can-I-have-your-attention-please” teacher. She does not wear reading glasses and does not own a set of pearls. This California native prides herself on giving her middle school students relevant education at a time when they need it most. Shotke stays current with her active lifestyle that includes hiking, soccer and enjoying the variety of entertainment venues in her hometown of Los Angeles. When asked for bragging points for this bio, she humbly gave the typical resume-type answers revolving around education and professional accomplishments. While her education is nothing to scoff at – BA in Communication from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and a masters degree in education – it certainly does not come close to capturing who she is.

We asked some of her students on Facebook – many of whom still follow her more than a decade after leaving her classroom – and the comments poured in. However, in the interest of space and brevity, we have included the most passionate response written by former student Yesenia Martinez. We feel this speaks volumes about the kind of teacher – and person – Shotke is. Certainly better than the typical run-of-the-mill biographies, as Shotke is clearly not your run-of-the-mill educator:

“Ms. Shotke was my teacher for one year and has been a mentor and friend for about 8 years. (Wow, time flies.) I have never met anyone as caring and intentional as her. She is the type of teacher that will devote not only her time but her complete attention toward her students and always desires more from them. She is truly passionate about what she does and her actions reflect that every day. I don’t really remember the exact subject matter I learned in her class (it’s been way too long) but one thing I do remember is the great example she set for us. And the example she continues to set to this day. I would not be who I am without her influence on my life. I believe people can influence others in the simplest ways and her words and encouragement have inspired me to pursue my dreams with every ounce of my energy. I am so blessed to know Ms. Shotke. She has impacted my life tremendously. She is a teacher, a friend and a mentor forever.”

(It should be noted this testimony was submitted via social media in full and complete sentences, without one emojicon)