Hartland Elementary’s third-grade teachers are two of a kind

  • Twins Halleck and Heather Pogue, who grew up in Hartford, talk with Case Benjamin, 8, and Olivia Adams, 8, right, on the playground at Hartland Elementary School in Hartland, Vt., Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. Heather taught for ten years in Chicago before returning to Vermont. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

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    A photo of "Team Pogue," twins Halleck and Heather Pogue as babies with their great grandmother, hangs outside their third grade classrooms at Hartland Elementary School in Hartland, Vt., Friday, September 6, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Case Benjamin, 8, comments on an illustration in a book after an exercise in which teacher Heather Pogue, asked students to record their thoughts as she read the story in words and pictures in Hartland, Vt., Friday, September 6, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

  • Halleck Pogue helps students, from left, Lucy Allegretti, Eric Hathorn, and Samara Collier, work out a math problem based on their upcoming field trip to the Tunbridge Fair during class at Hartland Elementary School in Hartland, Vt., Friday, September 6, 2019. Pogue's students split their time between his math and science lessons and his twin sister Heather's English, language arts and social studies lessons in her classroom next door. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

  • As her brother and fellow Hartland Elementary School third grade teacher Halleck Pogue looks on, Heather Pogue hugs her daughter Amara Johnson, 10, before she goes to fifth grade class at the start of the school day in Hartland, Vt., Friday, September 6, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/9/2019 10:00:17 PM
Modified: 9/9/2019 10:05:06 PM

Inbetween two classrooms at Hartland Elementary School hangs a photo of two ginger-haired babies tucked on either side of their great-grandmother.

Those babies, one nestled back against the sofa, the other apparently trying to crawl out of the picture, would be Heather and Halleck Pogue — now Ms. Pogue and Mr. Pogue — twins who also happen to be third grade teachers at the school this year. Heather Pogue is teaching third grade English language arts and social studies, and Halleck Pogue is the new third grade math and science teacher.

Twins are something of a rarity. They account for about three out of every 100 births. Twin teachers in the same grade at the same school? Well, no one seems to be keeping track of that particular statistic, but it’s safe to say it’s pretty uncommon.

Growing up on a small beef farm in West Hartford, the siblings learned to value education at a young age. Both of their parents were teachers at various points, and Heather and Halleck were home-schooled for three years, an experience that gave them an appreciation for self-directed learning. Heather went directly into teaching in Chicago after college, while Halleck spent several years as a carpenter in Montana before going back to school for his teaching degree. He and his wife, Shannon, who is also a teacher, returned to the area in 2010, and he got a job teaching at Hartland Elementary School, first as a classroom teacher in the lower grades, then as a middle school math teacher.

After teaching in Chicago for nearly a decade, Heather was also eager to return to her roots. She heard of a job opening at Hartland Elementary School through Halleck and was hired in 2014. Last year she started teaching third grade, and this year the third grade math and science teacher took a new position at the school, leaving a vacancy.

“Someone sort of jokingly said, ‘are you going to go teach with your sister?’ ” Halleck said.

That’s exactly what he did.

Settling into the school routine last week, third graders crossed back and forth between classrooms that mirrored each other in many ways. Both rooms were tidy and well stocked with books, both teachers spoke in a relaxed but deliberate manner and both reined in fidgety or noisy students with respectful requests. Going over fire drill protocol and explaining how to complete daily keyboarding exercises on the school Chromebooks, Heather was perhaps the more animated of the two.

Students, who start the morning in their homeroom class and switch to the other class in the afternoon, are beginning to get a sense of what to expect from each teacher.

“They have different personalities,” said 8-year-old Carly Cote, hunting in a word search for the names of Ms. Pogue’s students while waiting for Mr. Pogue’s class to begin last Thursday.

“They’re kind of the same, kind of different,” added 8-year-old Kayla Britton.

The siblings, 38, agree.

“I’d wager that our styles are pretty similar,” Halleck said.

“We both have a baseline of values and ways of interacting with kids,” said Heather, her words stepping on the heels of her brother’s.

Growing up, the Pogues were both strong students and both played a lot of sports. Halleck favored math and science, while Heather excelled in English and the arts. They never really considered themselves rivals.

“We were always pretty close. We’ve always gotten along well and complemented each other well,” said Halleck, who lives in West Hartford with his wife and two children.

“I’d say we were always more cooperative than competitive,” said Heather, who lives in Hartland with her husband, Eric Johnson, and two daughters, Amara and Maya Johnson. Like Heather and Halleck, they’re fraternal twins and are in the fifth grade this year at Hartland Elementary School. There’s another set of twins in the family as well — an aunt and uncle on Halleck and Heather’s mother’s side — and the Pogues have a third sibling, Duncan, who now runs a vegetable farm.

The twins hope their closeness will facilitate collaboration. Since they both teach the same students, one of their goals is to build lessons that connect across disciplines.

They also like the idea of leaning on each other as they confront the challenges of teaching.

“As teachers now, we are having to fill so many roles, there’s just not enough time in the day. ... Parents are dealing with a lot. Kids are dealing with a lot. I think a lot of that gets dumped in our lap as teachers,” Heather said. “Being close to him is like really good soul therapy.”

Sounds like there isn’t much chance of a rivalry emerging. But, you never know.

“We’ll have a secret poll at the end of the year,” Halleck wisecracked. “ ‘Who did you like better?’ ”

Sarah Earle can be reached at searle@vnews.com or 603-727-3268.




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