INFLUENCER OF THE WEEK: Heather Zoller, Horizon High School

Heather Zoller is the lead student counselor at Horizon High School.

Heather Zoller is the lead student counselor at Horizon High School.
Heather Zoller is the lead student counselor at Horizon High School.
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Heather Zoller is the lead student counselor at Horizon High School. In her role, she serves as an academic adviser who provides support to students on course selection, academic goals and career planning, while also assisting with strategies for academic success. In addition, she assists students and families who may be facing personal challenges. Zoller was recognized as the Horizon Teacher of the Year and the School Counselor of Year for the 2021-22 school year. However, she said none of the achievements compares to being called a mom. “Heather works tirelessly to ensure Horizon High School is the top producer of career and college-ready graduates in OCPS,” Principal Andrew Jackson said.

What brought you to your school?

I was one of seven employees first hired in January 2021 to open up Horizon High School in the fall as a relief high school for Windermere High School. I felt it was time to experience growth and challenge in my career and be a part of creating something new, especially in the town in which I live: Winter Garden. 

What do you love most about your school?

Our community, students and staff. I feel we have an environment that is welcoming and allows students to think critically and explore their passions. We have had one graduation class thus far, so every year going forward allows students and staff the opportunity to create traditions that can last for generations to come. Being in one of the fastest-growing areas in OCPS, we have families coming from all over the world, and it is wonderful to bring everyone together to grow Hawk Nation.

 What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Watching students flourish and grow from year to year. It feels awesome when you are able to help a student and they leave your office in a better place than when they entered. Our school started a program last year and this year, which Student Services took on, named Hawk Squad, which assists students who are new to our school or other students who feel they need a sense of belonging. The willingness of our Hawk Squad ambassadors to want to support all students is remarkable. To see the smile on a student’s face when one of our Hawk Squad ambassadors greats them in their first language or shares a similar interest to welcome them in is most rewarding.

What would you be if you weren’t in this profession?  

A meteorologist or a WWE Diva. Yep, you read that correctly. 

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

My third-grade teacher, Ms. Miller. She was quirky and smart. She made learning fun and made it so that all students felt confident when participating in class, especially me who was the quiet student.

What is your favorite children’s book and why?

I enjoyed reading Robert Munsch books growing up, but having three children of my own, I love the “Ordinary People Change the World” books by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. They discuss people’s real-life stories that are age appropriate in such a remarkable way, and the storytelling, along with the illustrations, are just the best.

Who influences you?  

God, my remarkable husband, my children, my parents and my brother. My faith and my family are the reason why I am able to love and give so much love to others. I truly believe in my church’s motto, HOPE Church, which states: “Love all people, at all times, in all places.” My Student Services team is the BEST. They are awesome and very supportive. We work well together to assist all students who come into our offices.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Anything with my family! We love sports, playing games and traveling. I also enjoy standup comedians from Chris Rock to Nate Bargatze. I appreciate a good joke, and a good laugh is absolutely my favorite.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Teleportation. I have family and friends that live all over the world. My brother’s family currently lives in Japan, and one of my best friends lives in Australia. So, teleportation would be great to be able to see them more often.

If you could only listen to three bands or artists, who would they be and why?

Alicia Keys, For King & Country, Tauren Wells and Ed Sheeran. Positive and upbeat. Hard to name just three.

What was your go-to lunch and favorite snack as an elementary student?

Water, ham and cheese sandwich, fruit, carrots, and a Little Debbie Zebra Cake. 

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Birthdays of family and friends. Celebrating another year around the sun with those I love is most rewarding.

Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?

Meredith, who I met in kindergarten and now lives in Maryland; Nafisa, who I met in fifth grade and now lives in Australia; and Payal, who I met in ninth grade and now lives in Virginia. I am still in touch with all of them, and I feel very blessed to have known them for multiple decades. We all got together this past September in Maryland. 

What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?

I was always involved in something. My parents believed the more involved we were, the less  likely we were to get into trouble. In elementary and middle school, I was in Odyssey of the Mind, played soccer, ran track, played the flute and was a competitive dancer. In high school, I earned good grades, but I had to work at it. I definitely did my homework. High school did not come easy to me, nor did I like school, but I loved sports. In sports, I earned many accolades and honors, but my favorites were track state champion in the 4x100-meter relay my junior year, club soccer state champions junior year, high school all-conference team in soccer all four years of high school and conference player of the year my senior year. I earned a senior athlete award and a soccer scholarship to Old Dominion University. Sports opened academic doorways for me that I otherwise probably would have not entered.



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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