Highland Primary 1st Grade teachers:

Belinda Counts, Heather Drazen, Michelle Ficker, Cindy Geest, Brittany McCune, Terri Moss, Morgan Pittman, and Sara Wilkinson.

First Grade Curriculum Guide

Belinda Counts

I have been privileged to serve young children and their families in the Highland School District since 2002, first as a parent educator with the Prek program and currently as a first grade teacher. I graduated from SIUE with a Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences in 1988. After several years working as a medical research assistant, I returned to school to pursue a career as an educator. My training includes a Master’s Degree in Education from SIUE (2004), and certification in both early childhood and elementary education. I live here in Highland with my husband, Duke, and our three children Paige, Colleen, and Elijah. In my spare time I enjoy running, weight training, traveling, reading, and following the Cardinals.

Heather Drazen

Hi! My name is Heather Drazen and I am a first grade teacher at Highland Primary. I am married to my husband Brian and we have two children, Maclin and Maveric. We also have a very sweet boxer names Piper. We are a hockey family and we of course love the Blues! I graduated from Eastern Illinois University with an Elementary Education degree in 2010 and taught Pre-Kindergarten at a daycare for 5 years before having my children. I decided I wanted to get back into teaching after having my boys so I was a substitute at Highland for one year and then worked as a paraprofessional at Highland for another year before getting the first grade position. I am so excited to be here at Highland and even more excited to be teaching first grade. If you ever need anything or have any questions for me you can always reach me through my school email.

Mrs.Michelle Ficker

I am Mrs.Michelle Ficker, first grade teacher at Highland Primary. I have thoroughly LOVED teaching since 1985 and have been in the Highland District since 1989. My career includes teaching first grade, second grade, Reading Recovery, and remedial reading. I most enjoy sharing my love of learning with my students as I teach them to read and write in a safe and welcoming environment. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1985 and my Master’s Degree from SIUE in 1995. My continuing education is ongoing. My husband, Steve, and I are extremely proud of our three children, Steven, Joel, and Rose. Our family enjoys traveling, camping, boating, and swimming. My personal hobbies include reading, gardening, sewing, crafts, cooking, and scrap booking.
Mrs. Ficker's Classroom Handbook

Cindy Geest

Hello! My name is Cindy Geest and I am a first grade teacher at Highland Primary. My husband Scott and our three children, Jack, Hannah, and Nolan love spending time together at our home in the country, following sports, and relaxing with family and friends! I graduated with a degree in elementary education from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1995 and have taught a variety of grade levels in Illinois, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. While I was home with my children I received my Master’s degree in Education from Greenville College in 2008. I am so excited to be your child’s first grade teacher. It is the most exciting grade to teach and the amount of growth that you will see in your child this year will astound you! I am glad to have you on my team as we educate your child and give them a love of learning. Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions through our district email or make an appointment with me and I would be happy to meet with you. Thanks for sharing your child with me on this journey!
Mrs. Geest Classroom Handbook

Brittany McCune

Hello! My name is Brittany McCune and I am ecstatic to be apart of the Highland Primary team. This is my first year in the district and I am already proud to be apart of it. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Illinois State University. I have spent one year in a first grade classroom and I love the growth each child makes in a year’s length! It is very encouraging as an educator. I grew up in Northwestern Illinois on my family farm and have moved to Highland to further my career in education. I am looking forward to a year of communicating with you as well as facilitating a positive classroom full of growth. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments!

Terri Moss

My name is Terri Moss and I have had the honor of teaching first grade for eight years at Highland Primary (as of 2014). I love working with first graders and watching them grow into young readers and writers. I truly love coming to work each day. I am a graduate of Highland High School and SIUE with my degree in Elementary Education. I spent many years working at our family business while my kids were young and I also spent a couple of years substitute teaching before working full time at Highland Primary. My husband and I have three wonderful sons that are growing up way too fast and keeping us very busy, but I wouldn't want it any other way!

Morgan Pittman

My name is Morgan Pittman and I am a first grade teacher at Highland Primary. I graduated from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville in 2016 with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. Before joining the first grade team, I was a guided reading aide at Highland Primary. I love working with first graders and watching them learn and grow as readers and writers. My husband Jamie and I just had a son named Cole and we have three puppies. We love family time and enjoy activities outside. Together, we like to go fishing, go for walks, watch hockey, and cheer on the St. Louis Blues. Thank you for letting me be a part of your child's education!

 Sara Wilkinson.

My name is Sara Wilkinson. I grew up in Highland and graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2006 with an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. I have wanted to work with children for as long as I can remember and am so pleased to be doing so in such a great district. I started working in the Highland Community Schools in 2006 as a substitute teacher. I have worked within the Highland School District since and have taught first grade since 2009. I have a daughter who also keeps me very busy. We enjoy going to the park, visiting the zoo, reading, and doing puzzles together.