Susan Heikkinen

Susan Heikkinen

10-21-1964 - 12-24-2021


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.

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17 responses to Susan Heikkinen

  1. Edesa P says:

    Someone so special will not be forgotten. You never failed to amaze me as my high school teacher. I was blessed to have not only been a part of your numerous Math classes (that I would fight my counselor to make sure I was in) but also part of your Homeroom in which was always a joy knowing I get to have my long school day started by your presence. It was recognized by all your students and staff how genuine, kind, and passionate you were in your many roles at Fairfax that include being a teacher, mentor, and a true friend to all. I will forever be grateful to have gotten to be a student taught by you. I would not have made it this far in my studies and life in general without your guidance and support through the ups and downs in my high school days. I will forever cherish you as one of the greatest teachers and role models in my life. My sweet teacher and friend, Ms. Heikkinen, you will be dearly missed. Love, E-desa.

  2. There is a lot to say. Ms. Heikkinen is the most prominent example of someone who has left us too soon among any individual I can mentally muster. Her impact on my life alone was momentous and I can not imagine what tremors she set off in the world through all her goodwill, teaching, and mentorship. The instant I met her in Calculus BC and AP Stats, I blossomed. I had drifted more or less through high school via my own path, but Ms. Heikkinen brought to me unfounded awareness. She gave me direction and empowerment. I looked forward to her classes every single day of my Senior year. She made me love math. She made me love school. She made me love learning. Her kindness is understated. I once recall her exalting my ego by stating I had the mathematical ability to out score a Stanford engineering student, and even remember her boasting our capabilities to our Math Club team at a state math competition. Ms. Heikkinen was a genius. She had the ability to understand any of her students, especially me, and teach them accordingly. Her class was among the only classes I have ever aced, and it was not because it was easy. No. Her classes were the most challenging at the school. It was in fact due to her teaching ability. Thank you, Ms. Heikkinen, for compelling me to shoot for the stars. Thank you for helping me with Math Club, for leading us to victory. For being the best gratuitous mentor I could share my accomplishments with. For gifting me a TI 84 calculator for college. For bringing me out of my shell. For the stellar recommendation letters. For helping me become a Hispanic Fund Scholar. For pushing me to shoot higher, and farther than ASU. For letting me and Leo B grade the class s Calculus exams. For showing me what I am capable of. For taking me to where I am.

  3. Ayana Tellez says:

    Ms. Heikkinen was not only an awesome teacher, but an amazing person overall. She cared about her students education, but she also cared about them on a personal level as well. She always made sure to check in on a student if they looked down and would always have open ears. Ms. H will forever be remembered for her loving heart and great amount of care for her students. I will never forget everything she did to go above and beyond for everyone. Thank you Ms. Heikkinen for inspiring so many lives, you will be truly missed.

  4. Keoni Dang says:

    Susan Heikkinen had a major impact on me when she joined our Math Department at Fairfax! She was an amazing educator and an even better friend and person. Her impact is unmeasurable. My condolences go out to her family, friends, and community.

  5. Susan helped me, and our entire team, teach and learn. She led with kindness and strength. Prayers for her Mom, Sister, and everyone she touched with her intelligence and love.

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