Steinert High School senior Juliana Bell could always tell Patrick Hearney had a passion for teaching. However, this year she noticed he was stuck using broken materials to teach his classes.
The Steinert science teacher was using an old broken skeleton to teach the anatomy and physics classes. The skeleton’s skull was partially missing and it was missing bones—including an entire hand—which Bell said made it hard for Hearney to use it during lessons.
With no room in the school budget for a new skeleton, Bell took it upon herself to raise the money. She started a GoFundMe page in February, and within a month she raised the $300 needed to buy Hearney a new skeleton for the classroom.
“His passion for teaching is so obvious, and I wanted to do whatever I could to give back to that,” Bell said. “I want him to be able to teach us to the best of his ability.”
Bell said that using the broken skeleton didn’t stop Hearney from teaching his lessons, but it was hard for the students to see that’s what they are given to learn with in their school. The Hamilton Post contacted Hearney, but he did not respond.
While Bell wanted the fundraiser to be a surprise, another student told Hearney about it before she could bring in the skeleton. However, knowing about it in advance didn’t lessen Hearney’s excitement.
“He didn’t know what day I was bringing it in, and when he found out about it he was literally speechless,” Bell said. “He said it was the nicest thing anyone’s done for him in the 12 years he has been working at Steinert.”
Bell attributed the success of the fundraiser to both current students and alumni, who have an appreciation for Hearney and his teaching style. Bell said his class is one of the most lively and engaging classes she’s had at Steinert. His voice can often be heard echoing through the halls of Steinert as he talks to students, and Bell said his passion for wanting his students to succeed is contagious.
Bell added that the best part of the fundraiser was being able to give back to one of her favorite teachers who gives so much to his students.
“It makes me feel good to know there are teachers out there who really care about the students and I appreciate that,” she said.