Community rallies to support local teacher

Members of the Oviedo community were shocked to hear of a local fire in Chuluota on April 25. Even more shocking was the news of whose house was affected.

“We are sad to report a devastating house fire today at the home of Dena Heath, a beloved first grade teacher here at Partin,” the Partin Elementary Parent Teacher Association posted on their website.

Being called a “total loss” by officials, the fire made its way through Heath’s home and into the attic, not only destroying the interior of her home, but also a large amount of her and her family’s personal belongings. Despite the massive destruction of Heath’s property, all family members and pets remained unharmed.

After hearing news of the fire, the Oviedo community knew that they could not stand by without lending a hand to the Heath family. A fundraiser created by a local resident on has raised $6,935 in the six days after it was created.

The Partin PTA started a fundraiser to benefit the Heaths, beginning the fundraiser by donating $200. They are also accepting donations in the form of cash or check to provide the family with Wal-Mart and Target gift cards.

Along with Partin Elementary, many other organizations have become involved in assisting the Heath family. The Steak ‘n Shake on University Boulevard will be donating 20 percent of their proceeds from Saturday, May 3 and Sunday, May 4 if Partin or the Heath family is mentioned.

“I wanted to help in any way possible. Steak ‘n Shake is a family restaurant and we always want to help families in need,” owner Scott Beach, whose wife teaches at Partin, said.

Hagerty students, some who were in Heath’s class, have also been encouraged to donate to the family. Students, along with others interested in donating to the family, can donate online at or bring their cash or check donations to the front office of Partin Elementary, noting on the envelope that it is for the Heath family.