They play a crucial part in the tomorrows of the world. They inspire as they share their heart, their knowledge, their very being. They are teachers. A wildly underappreciated group, it’s a gift that each year the Billings community takes the time out to acknowledge outstanding educators in our midst with The Golden Apple Awards. The 2015 Golden Apple Award and Billings Education Association’s (BEA) Teacher of the Year and Friend of Education recipients were honored on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. There was an air of excitement buzzing through the air as the recipients settled in at the luncheon honoring them and the work they do with the students of this community. With no further ado, we offer you the 2015 Golden Apple and BEA awards winners. Congratulations!
Elementary Teacher Awards:
Karen Marcotte, Kindergarten Teacher at Boulder Elementary School
Mrs. Marcotte has a way with kids that can only come from years of experience in the classroom. Not only does every child feel successful every day in her classroom, but successful in an encouraging, supportive environment. Her 6-year-old charges are always writing, thinking, moving, singing, touching, and listening. Mrs. Marcotte employs all learning styles so that her students have many opportunities to understand concepts. She also encourages an environment of learning at home, sending her kids “homefun” activities to play or read. Mrs. Marcotte is a teacher that goes above and beyond what is expected. In treating all of her students with sincere love and kindness, Mrs. Marcotte shows each of them that just because they are small does not mean that they are less.
Spencer Anderson, 1st Grade Teacher at Highland Elementary School
Mr. Anderson teaches with a contagious joy. His classroom is a well-organized, positive and nurturing environment where everyone is treated with kindness and respect. In addition to traditional classroom instruction, Mr. Anderson’s use of field trips, poetry books, news day, plays and videos stimulates imagination and makes learning fun. His pro-active communication with parents through technology and 1:1 meetings helps build a team approach to helping young students accept responsibility for their own learning. Mr. Anderson is a professional who sets such a high standard that one of his first grade charges declared, “Mr. Anderson is the best teacher I have ever had!”
Middle School Teacher Award:
Craig Allred, Math Teacher and Volleyball Coach at Castle Rock Middle School
Mr. Allred is a teacher and coach who impacts lives. In the classroom and in the middle school or high school gym, Mr. Allred is a person for whom kids want to work hard and to please. Past and former students gravitate to his kind heart and his sincere concern for their well-being. On bus trips volleyball players line the aisle to get help with their math. During long volleyball tournaments, Mr. Allred is in the stands helping students with their math. And Mr. Allred has discovered that the magic number of kids needed to be team manager is exactly the number of kids who need to be involved in something positive. Craig Allred is a fabulous instructor/coach/role model/mentor, and for students, he is a winning equation.
High School Teacher Award:
Paul Klaboe, Social Studies at West High School
Mr. Klaboe has taught high school social studies for nearly three decades at West High. His organizational skills and his ability to embrace individual student opinions and masterfully weave those ideas into future lessons are hallmarks of an effective educator. His students are engaged in his lessons and retain information about history for years after sitting in a desk in Mr. Klaboe’s classroom. As for his football coaching ability, his longevity, coaching record and the relationships he has molded with student athletes and parents over the years stands testament. Coach Klaboe is often referred to as one of the greats. Not solely for his winning record, but also for the way he treats his players, the parents, administrators, and coaching staff. His demeanor in the classroom can be directly related to his success on the field. Mr. Klaboe is an exceptional coach because Mr. Klaboe is a great teacher.
Support Professional Award:
Nancy Ruby, Custodian at Newman Elementary School
Mrs. Ruby is considered a treasure among the staff and students of Newman Elementary. With 19 years working in the school district and 12 at Newman Elementary, Mrs. Ruby has kept the school clean, comfortable, safe, and welcoming. She is not only a caretaker of the building, but also a caretaker of hearts. She is quick to be a surrogate parent for children needing a champion with whom to share their writing or emerging reading skills. She works tirelessly at Saturday Live. She is kind and hospitable to new staff members. In addition to bleaching desk tops during flu outbreaks, wiping down computers and disinfecting drinking fountains, Mrs. Ruby helps children feel good about themselves in coats she gathers during breakfast and returns by lunch recess washed and smelling as fresh as a hug from a trusted friend. Nancy Ruby, as her name suggests, is a gem.
Shaun Harrington, Principal of Riverside Middle School
Mr. Harrington is an institution in School District #2. In his 34 year tenure he has worn many different hats in many different buildings and done so with kindness, warmth, and generosity. Mr. Harrington is a powerfully positive and effective leader who believes in teamwork and in playing an active role on the team. He leads his staff by example, staying late to prepare for the next day, making sure teachers have all the necessary materials to give students the best education available and stepping in to lend a hand whether that means answering the phone, filling in for a teacher or monitoring students in the cafeteria. Although he has many administrative responsibilities, he has never forgotten the challenges all teachers face on a daily basis in the trenches teaching kids. Students know that Mr. Harrington cares about them, but that he also means business as he both disciplines and encourages with firmness and sensitivity. A student-first philosophy, strong leadership skills, and a compassion for and commitment to both students and staff set him well above the excellent mark in the Billings education community. In a nutshell, Mr. Harrington makes everyone around him better.
2015 BEA Teacher of the Year – Lyn McKinney
Senior High librarian, Lyn McKinney, received the BEA Teacher of the Year award for her stellar work in Senior High’s library. Her work at Senior has transformed the library. A colleague wrote that Ms. McKinney is a “force of nature.” Her efforts have resulted in a library that is a hub of learning for Senior High. As advisor to the Senior High National Honor Society, Ms. McKinney has fashioned student community services project which have ranged from student volunteers for community beautification to involvement with Saturday Live. Senior High’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration has resulted in great part from Ms. McKinney’s efforts with the committee. Most recently, a mural night at Senior attracted many hundreds of community members. Her commitment to the students and citizens of Billings reflects the best in the teaching profession. We are pleased to honor Lyn McKinney with our highest award.
2015 BEA Friend of Education – Chris Cook
Mr. Cook’s work with students in four elementary schools deserves special attention; he redefines volunteerism. He has been instrumental in promoting healthy lifestyles with our students. He participates in Running Clubs and Hip-Hop Clubs. He buys shoes and bike helmets. He has donated toys, flashlights, Frisbees, bike reflector bands, and other items. He rounds up volunteers to help work chili suppers and spring carnivals. Best of all, this man with hot pink running shoes knows how to connect with kids. His words and actions mold relationships with the youngest of our students. The BEA is pleased to present Chris Cook with our Friend of Education award. His work touches hundreds of students every week. Billings is a better place because of Chris.
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The Educator Appreciation Awards Banquet will be held on Thursday, April 23, 2015, at 6pm at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. Friends, family, students, parents, and fellow educators are invited to attend this event to honor the BEA Awards recipients and Golden Apple recipients, as well as, School District 2 retirees and 25-year employees, and recipients of grants and scholarships from the Education Foundation.
Tickets can be purchased at the BEA office at 510 North 29th St. through April 21.
*Golden Apple Award recipient bios provided by the Golden Apple Committee. 2015 BEA Award recipient bios provided by the Billings Education Association.