Teacher of the Year

Tracy Wilmes wins the Teacher of the Year award and poses for a picture with other members of Heartland Middle School staff while holding his award

Tracy Wilmes was named Heartland’s 2024 Teacher of the Year. 

Principal Veronica Johnson appreciates Mr. Wilmes for being not only an amazing art teacher, but for also going above and beyond for the school community - sponsoring art club, sk8 club, coaching soccer at Santa Fe, driving a bus when needed, mentoring rookie teachers and so much more. She considers him to be the epitome of what it means to be a Heartland Thunderhawk. One of the teachers who nominated Mr. Wilmes praised him for "his overall awesomeness and commitment to the students at Heartland!"

Mr. Wilmes has been in public school education since 1994 and began teaching STEAM based art education at Heartland in 2022. He taught Art and Math education in the states of Illinois, North Carolina, and Florida, and served as Fine Arts Department Head and as an Advanced Placement Art teacher. He has instructed a wide variety of comprehensive, hands-on art programs and developed two dimensional and three dimensional curricula. He understands the unique facets of teaching art education and how it spurs creative thinking, which is critical to all careers.

Several of his graduates have continued their education at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Ringling College of Art and Design, and the School of Visual Arts in New York, and others have had successful careers at the J. Paul Getty Museum and Chrysler Corporation.

In addition to his public service, Mr. Wilmes owned and operated Cup O’ Pottery studio for 12 years, where he taught hand-building, sculpture, and wheel throwing. He served as a partner in the arts with public, private, and home schools, and sponsored interns from local high schools. Mr. Wilmes has also sold his functional pottery to galleries across the nation and the Virgin Islands.

Mr. Wilmes has a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education from Eastern Illinois University. He also studied printmaking at Savannah College of Art and Design, and did post-secondary work at the University of North Florida.

Mr. Wilmes believes art plays a vital role in providing texture to the community. He has written several grants for art education enrichment programs and collaborated in several community-wide student art projects, such as painting sea life murals under bridges and creating soup bowls for the hungry.

Mr. Wilmes also holds a US Soccer coaching license and currently resides in Jones, Oklahoma with his wife and two wonderful children.

Fun Facts about Mr. Wilmes:

•    Life motto: Go experience the world and leave no stone unturned

•    Famous family quote: “…just don’t paint your sister.”

•    Most memorable educational moment: Exploring France with 25 art students

•    Hobbies: traveling and surfing all over the world, coaching soccer, Roy Hobbs baseball

•    Life’s little pleasure: hot coffee and cold Reese’s peanut butter cups after surfing dawn patrol

Heartland Middle School’s Teachers of the Year





Wes Self

8th Grade Math


Sarah Roberts

7th Grade Geography


Kathryn Ash

Special Education


Marisa Skube



Madison Birdwell

6th Grade Geography


Dana Williams

6th Grade English


Stacey Ruston

6th Grade Science, 8th Grade History