Susan Heikkinen, 57, passed away December 24, 2021, of complications from a long term illness. She was a beloved daughter, sister and friend. Born October 21, 1964 in Ohio to Janet Lee Heikkinen (nee Schultz) and the late Allen H. Heikkinen, Susan grew up in Phoenix, AZ and remained in the Phoenix area for her adult life. She is survived by her mother, Janet Lee Heikkinen and her sister, Carol Heikkinen.
Susan attended Madison #1 elementary, Camelback High School, and ASU, where she earned a BA in Math Education. She later earned a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering, and a Masters in Education Administration. Susan was a highly regarded educator, teaching AP Calculus at South Mountain High School, North High School, and most recently Betty Fairfax High school, where she was the founding sponsor for the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics national honor society.
Susan’s former department head at Betty Fairfax High School, Josh Wray, wrote this about Susan’s extraordinary talent as an educator:
“Susan Heikkinen was an amazing teacher and changed the lives of countless people, students and colleagues alike. Susan was a leader and always went out of her way to help her coworkers. She would share lesson plans and offer advice for anyone that was interested in growing from her experience. Susan was so fun to be around. She was always in a good mood and had a great sense of humor. Susan would make you laugh and offer a compliment when she knew you needed it. Susan was always thinking of others and was kind to everyone. She brought her experiences from previous work to help make math relevant and interesting to students. Susan built such amazing relationships with her students. They respected her and worked hard but loved being in her class. It was the perfect balance of respect and love that all teachers strive for. Susan was unbelievably talented at what she did yet remained humble and constantly strived to improve. She was not satisfied with doing things the same way year after year. Susan changed with the times and the kids to continue to optimize every kid’s education. Susan had an uncanny ability to relate to every single kid. Athletes, academics, socialites, and introverts all connected with Susan and loved her class. She was thanked in every graduation speech that I attended. The best and only way to understand the teacher and person Susan was is to ask every one of her thousands of students about her. They will tell you how life changing, inspiring, and uplifting she was. Every student and coworker of Susan’s will miss her but is definitely a better person today because of her. I know I am.”
Susan’s family thanks Josh for his kind words, she will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her. We hope her colleagues, friends and students will share memories of her in the guestbook.