Reflecting Upon My Experience as Montana’s 2017 Teacher of the Year

To represent the professional educators of our state as the 2017 Montana Teacher of the Year; an overwhelming charge. I was humbled to try to do so. I think I gave it my best. Representing all involved with Montana’s teaching, from the earliest elementary level teachers all the way through the middle and high school grades – is daunting; all the more so trying to represent the vast majority of teachers in Montana who are in very rural districts. I taught almost a decade in Class A Lewistown at Fergus High before moving to the middle school level when I came to Helena. I have visited friends who teach in very rural schools; schools like Highwood, Hayes-Lodgepole, and Opheim. Both my grandmother and my mother taught in one room school houses (grandma in Ismay, and mom in Grizzly Bluff (CA)), but there are 68 such facilities remaining in our state. We are so rural. To represent all of these professional educators as one person – that is monumental undertaking.

The bottom line, though, is that we educators in Montana are trusted with the young people’s development, academic and social, in communities throughout this state. We give our all to help ensure that the next generation will be capable of contributing as productive members of our society. We try new ideas. We reflect upon what goes well and what needs adjusting. We strive to educate ALL of our students. Sometimes we do something in the classroom and it fails. We then come back the next day with the same enthusiasm we had the first time around and try something else.

We are passionate and we have power as teacher-leaders in our state.

On October 19, 2017, I had the opportunity to share my experience and reflect upon this past year as the 2017 Montana Teacher of the Year. I thought my Keynote at the statewide assessment conference last January was the hardest speech I’d ever had to write. But then, I spent hours on a speech for as a Keynote at a regional MEA-MFT union training in Great Falls. That was the hardest speech I ever wrote. And then came the honor of doing a Keynote at the Pinning Ceremony for the education graduates at Salish Kootenai Tribal College last spring. That was a daunting challenge. All of these were eclipsed by this one though – my Keynote at the 2018 Teacher of the Year Celebration for Melissa Romano.

I may add more to this reflection in the coming days, but for now, I wanted to share my speech and the accompanying slideshow with those who may be interested but were unable to attend.

Thank you for checking it out – the speech is 25 minutes long.

Motion in the video is blurry; it was an f-stop issue… not to fear, the slides from the slideshow look just fine!

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