Erin Hemme Named Special School District Teacher of the Year

Special School District of St. Louis County is proud to announce it has selected Erin Hemme as its 2021 Teacher of the Year.

Hemme is a teacher of the deaf for Special School District and teaches at the Ladue Early Childhood Center.

She earned the honor for her dedication to student learning, collaboration with families and coworkers, and her ability to help students make great strides in their education.

Hemme has excelled in helping students with hearing loss expand their vocabulary.

She structures her day to be sure every minute is used for teaching and learning language.

By using a naturalistic approach, Hemme’s teaching style meshes activities and routines with learning.

“It seems like they are playing, but there is a purpose behind everything,” Hemme said.

“Students who enter the DHH (deaf and hard of hearing) early childhood program frequently have little language and/or vocabulary,” said Cheryl Hermann, who is Hemme’s supervisor and co-nominator for the award.

“Erin systematically addresses this vocabulary gap and has even taken it a step further. She has developed a vocabulary bank and activity with photos and words for over 350 vocabulary words.”

Hemme was selected as one of SSD’s 10 Key to the Classroom Award winners this year.

The Key to the Classroom Award honors SSD’s top teachers for their creative approaches to student learning, innovative programming, and commitment to student success.

Hemme and the other award winners were selected among the more than 2,700 teacher-level staff members at SSD.

“When you hear ‘a teacher loves what they do,’ I think of Erin,” said coworker and co-nominator Amy Clark. “A lot of us are happy and love our job, but Erin truly comes to work, stays positive, and has fun each and every day!”

Hemme has worked with deaf students in an official capacity for 15 years.

Influenced by her mother who taught at the Central Institute for the Deaf, Hemme spent 10 years as a teacher there before moving to Special School District for the last five years.

She has worked with students ages 3 to 12 but primarily has worked with preschool-aged students.

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) provides special education services to all students with disabilities in St. Louis County – more than 23,000 this school year.

The District also operates two technical high schools with a combined enrollment of about 1,800 students that provide a wide range of career and technical education opportunities to area high school students.