Each year, News 8 celebrates the teachers making a difference in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. The five "My Favorite Teacher" honorees we salute in 2019 were nominated by students, selected by last year's teacher winners, and awarded with a gift card and other items given by Blackhawk Bank and Trust.
MUSCATINE, Iowa – A teacher in Muscatine is helping change the lives of his students and keeping them in tune at the same time.
And holding the baton is band director Jeff Heid, now in his 18th year at Muscatine.
"I became band director so I can keep my back to the audience and not facing them."
Today, one student is putting Mr. Heid front and center.
"Mr. Heid, you're My Favorite Teacher," high school junior Rachel Mullikin, who wrote to News 8 to nominate her favorite teacher, said.
Rachel said some teachers deserve the limelight.
"And by giving Mr. Heid this award, it means so much to me and I believe it would mean a lot to him by showing him that all of his work and effort isn't forgotten or not acknowledged," she said.
The school's marching band has some of Muscatine High School's best musicians playing together.
That includes Rachel, on the flute and piccolo, in first chair.
"She always got a positive outlook," Heid said. "She does a lot of great things for the program."
But Rachel says she's the one whose gotten so much more from this band and this teacher.
"I am going to pursue a music career in education now because I want to be as good of a band director as he is and impact people's lives like he does," she said.
"In the music world, we are not just teaching our students to play an instrument," said Mr. Heid. "We're teaching them to be human."
"We're teaching them to feel and to experience things on a deeper level than just the written page."
It's been written... 'where words fail, music speaks'. And it speaks to every one Mr. Heid's students differently.
But one thing stays constant for this band, these students, and this teacher.
It's the band's motto: Attitude is everything.
And students like Rachel are ready to grab that baton... and carry that message with them throughout her lives.
"He always encourages us to do our best and tells us we're better than we think we are."