Job Title: Department Head of Student Activities at Harry Ainlay High School and Executive Director and Co-founder of Geomeer Charitable Society
WHY HE’S TOP 40: For being more than an educator; he’s become a mentor and made an investment into the daily lives of students.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT EDMONTON?: “I do love the diversity of this city. With all the cultures in the city, there are so many things happening. I love summer and all the different festivals.”
Last Valentine’s Day, the student body at Harry Ainlay High School were all encouraged to wear pink. The reason? To culminate an anti-bullying campaign at the school and to get the students to wear a colour that often carries a stigma.
George Heidt organized the campaign, along with the student council, and it was his idea to do it on Valentine’s Day. “We wanted to turn one of the most exclusive days of the year into something inclusive. And we want to do it again next year.”
Heidt has helped organize blood drives, where students were shuttled to a nearby clinic to make their donations. He helped spur a move to raise more than $14,000 for Haitian earthquake victims.
These efforts are part of how Heidt encourages students to get involved in their communities. Heidt teaches calculus in the morning, then acts as a mentor for students in the afternoons. Oh, and he’s also the water polo coach.
“I want to help them to get the skills they need, whether they go to school to become an engineer or go into medicine, whatever they want to do,” he says from his tiny office, over the din of students in the hallway. “I want to show them that there’s a world out there and they are full citizens. I want to fulfill the board mandate, which is to educate the whole child.”
He’s also the vice president of the Canadian Student Leadership Association, which gathers educators and students from across the country, where they share their ideas for improving their communities.
Heidt has a lot to share; three years ago, he and his former student, Sameer Dhar, formed Geomeer, a charity that has now spread into a province-wide effort to help feed and clothe needy families. The charity was formed out of a need to change the way that Harry Ainlay raised money for the food bank. Interest had waned, and Dhar and Heidt came up with the plan to allow the students to learn the stories about the families in need, putting human faces on poverty in the city.