Jennifer Heithoff

Educator of the Year—Elementary

Jennifer Heithoff, Christ the King School, Omaha

As a reading specialist for all grades at Christ the King School, Jennifer Heithoff focuses not only on her student’s reading skills but on all areas of their formation, including faith. Throughout her 28 years at the school her commitment and presence are evident in the many committees and efforts where she offers her wisdom and leadership.

Jennifer leads the 14-member Language Arts committee, is a key player on the Academic School Improvement committee, is a member of the Teacher Advisory team and leads a student evangelization book study for teachers. She provides reading support to more than 30 students and regularly sacrifices her lunch periods to work with middle school students to strengthen their organizational skills. Jennifer was instrumental in establishing a leveled library and was essential to the school’s successful AdvancED accreditation visit in 2015 and again in 2020. She is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at school Masses and assisted in creating an adoration program for school students.

Caitlyn Thomas, a 2016 Christ the King graduate, struggled with reading starting in first grade. Jennifer’s reading guidance helped Caitlyn to achieve grade-level reading skills by fifth grade and from there she flourished. “As a current senior at Mercy High School I will never forget the impact Mrs. Heithoff made on my life. Today I am currently one of the top public speakers in my grade. I read with confidence and most importantly, I’ve learned to believe in myself,” said Caitlyn.

“As a reading specialist, I’m dedicated to helping students become better readers. I strive to prepare the soil, so they become confident, independent learners,” said Jennifer. “I seek to connect their strengths and interests to what they’re learning and remind them that God will use those strengths. I encourage them to continue growing as readers and writers even when it’s challenging. I prepare my students to be ready to follow God’s will in their lives and make a difference.”

Jennifer holds a bachelor’s from Creighton University and a master’s in reading from the University of Nebraska Omaha. She and her husband, John, have three children: Andrew, Allison and Anthony. Jennifer enjoys writing middle-grade fiction, going for walks and spending time with friends and family.