Morris’ Heather Wills’ love for math and history inspires her to teach

Teacher Heather Wills stands outside of Morris Community High School on Thursday, April 20, 2023 in Morris.

MORRIS – While she was in college, Heather Wills enjoyed both math and history. So much so that when she was at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she wondered what she could do that might incorporate at least one of the subjects she loved.

“I just gravitated toward teaching,” Wills said.

That gravitational pull that she felt landed her at Morris Community High School in 2007 after spending three years teaching at St. Anne.

Morris has since become home, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I got married and had my first child while I was working in St. Anne and we lived in Plainfield,” she said. “That was a pretty long drive, and I wanted to get closer to home.

“I really enjoy being at Morris,” she said. “I graduated from Minooka, so I have family in the area. I like teaching high school-aged kids. The sense of camaraderie and community that they have here, you don’t get that at all schools. Some of the bigger schools, you might not know all the kids in your own graduating class, and the teachers may never see some of them in four years.”

Wills teaches different classes depending on what the department needs are. This year, she is teaching geometry, a sophomore level course; algebra II, a junior level course; and advanced algebra, a junior/senior level course.

“In years past, I have taught different classes,” she said. “It all depends on the need each year. I have anywhere from 20 to 30 students in a class. It’s nice to have smaller class sizes because you can really get to know what a student’s strengths are and what they need to work on.

“With the courses I teach, I might have kids two or three years in a row. Some have the fortune, or misfortune, whichever the case may be, of having me four years in a row.”

Morris Community High School Superintendent Craig Ortiz said Wills spends a lot of extra time planning lessons and helping students.

“She is always trying new ideas, and her commitment to her job is strong. Morris Community High School is very lucky to have her,” he said.

Wills enjoys not only the proximity to family that Morris provides, but also the student body as a whole.

“The kids are just good kids,” she said. “So many of them are active in the community, or sports, or the arts, or any combination of those. It really gives the school a good sense of school spirit when everybody is involved in something like a team or a club.”

If the name Wills is familiar, that’s because Nate Wills, Heather’s husband, is an assistant baseball coach at Coal City High School, and Greg Wills, Nate’s cousin, was the head baseball coach at Coal City for four seasons after being a longtime assistant coach for Jerry McDowell. Also, Greg’s wife, Tiffany, was formerly a P.E. teacher at Morris and was the head softball coach for two seasons.

“There are a lot of Wills’ around here,” Heather Wills said. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep it all straight, who is married to who, who are brother and sister, who are cousins. But it’s nice to have a lot of family around.”