Surprise Squad honors Ludlow teacher who goes the extra mile

This month, we’re celebrating an educator at Ludlow High School who is always willing to go the extra mile for her students.
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 4:30 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2022 at 5:16 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad is back with a surprise like no other. This month, we’re celebrating an educator at Ludlow High School who is always willing to go the extra mile for her students.

While we are surprising Ms. Heather Pighetti, we have something else in store. It’s a little bit tricky for this month’s surprise because she thinks we are here to interview Mr. Lee, who is retiring this year, but little did she know everything was all for her.

Pighetti, the special education inclusion teacher at Ludlow High School, is beloved throughout the school.

“Throughout everything, she was always there for me and I knew I could trust her. I would talk with her whenever I needed anything,” said Bella Murphy.

“Peers and friends have said great things about her and how much she helps in her everyday life, assignments and everything. She’s great,” added Ludlow High senior Samuel Cocchi.

“She is just an outstanding, great, and nice person. She is just brightening any students day when I see her,” said Ludlow High junior Thomas Przybl.

To give back for all that Pighetti does for the students and the school, the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad made sure she had a surprise she will never forget and it all started with a fake interview.

Reporter: “So we are doing a story about Mr. Lee and the positive impact he’s had on the school. Can you talk about him?”

“He has been a wonderful asset to this building,” Pighetti said.

Meanwhile, the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad were preparing the surprise of a lifetime.

Reporter: “How long have you been working here?”

“This is my sixth year here, but I have been teaching since ‘96,” Pighetti added.


“You tricked me, oh my gosh,” Pighetti exclaimed.

Reporter: “The students and the teachers think of you so highly, so we have some gifts for you.”

“I am shocked and my heart is going like a mile a minute,” Pighetti said.

“On behalf of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers, we want to acknowledge you for your awesomeness. I know it is not easy, but it is rewarding. It takes a special type of educator to do what you do every day, so we are giving you a $500 gift card to use any way you want and we also $500 to use towards the school,” said Gary Rome, president of Gary Rome Hyundai.

Bella’s mom, Laura Murphy, nominated Pighetti for the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad.

“She is an amazing human being who goes out of her way to know the students individually and helps them reach their best potential…She is that constant encouragement, that constant positive impact, and that speaks volumes,” Laura Murphy explained.

Bella shared one of her favorite memories with Pighetti.

“When I would sit with my friend last year in our class and we would just talk. All three of us would just talk and it was a lot of fun,” Bella Murphy said.

Pighetti’s co-teacher told us her compassion has resonated throughout the entire school.

“She reaches so many people on so many different levels. She reaches special ed., standard students whatever it may be, everyone in the building knows her name,” said Deborah Iby, a science teacher at Ludlow High School.

The principal of Ludlow High School, Lisa Nemeth, told Western Mass News that Pighetti is a Grinspoon Award recipient.

“A Grinspoon winner is someone who has compassion, integrity, works with the community and her colleagues love her,” Nemeth noted.

Now, she has another award to add to the mantle.

“To have someone win something like this is just amazing and shows that Ludlow H.S. has some of the best teachers around,” Nemeth said.

The Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad is proud to be part of Pighetti’s special day.

“The Surprise Squad is such a great way to give back to people who have made a difference in people’s lives, especially teachers. It’s so great to see the look on everyone’s faces, especially the recipient for it to be such a great honor,” said Audrey Chechile, marketing manager for Country Hyundai and Tommy Car Auto Group.

Pighetti told us what makes an exceptional teacher.

“Somebody who is positive, understanding, loves kids and they are professional, but also have a personal side about them,” Pighetti said.

Those are some of the qualities she picked up from her tenth-grade teacher in Westfield, who inspired her passion for teaching.

“She was so compassionate and she brought teaching past the professional and made it more personal, so I thought I would like to do that one day and have that type of impact on other people,” Pighetti explained.