Being honored with the 2015 Montana Teacher of the Year Award is something that I have yet to wrap my mind around and my gratitude is beyond words. So, how is it that I sit down at my laptop and attempt to do what I am unable to do - put this whole “thing” into words. Seems strange doesn’t it?
In May of 2014 I received a letter in the mail stating that I had been nominated for the Montana Teacher of the Year Award. Immediately I was flabbergasted that somebody felt strongly enough about my teaching that they would nominate me for the award. But, I soon found out that the application I would have to fill out was going to consume most of my life thereafter. Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t have had to consume my life but I allowed it to do so. I felt so honored to be nominated that I devoted any ‘free’ moment to thinking, planning and writing my application.
I was awarded a research grant by the Murdock Trust to explore the ecological changes in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at treeline. During my research season I lived out of a trailer in the mountains above Red Lodge, MT. Each night, when I would return back to camp, sore, frustrated, and overwhelmed, I would start the generator and open my laptop - letting the hours hum by as I typed, deleted and retyped every statement of my application.
The (first) Call
On September 9, 2014 I got a call from Donna Gravely at the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation telling me that I had been selected as one of three finalists for the 2015 Montana Teacher of the year. At some point in this call, time stopped.
This was never part of the plan. I was never supposed to be a great teacher who might be recognized with the most prestigious teaching award one can earn in Montana.
I teach because I love it. I work hard because thats what I was taught to do. I create because I can’t help it. Never have I done any of these things for an award; I do them because I don’t know any other way.
But, to get this call, telling me I would be interviewed for Montana Teacher of Year literally took my breath away.
I traveled to Helena, MT and was plopped down in a soft leather chair in a conference room with 8 strangers watching my every move. The interview started…time froze while my mind raced...
...I was eventually plucked from my soft leather chair, sent to the door and told I would get a call in a day…
...I started breathing again 30 miles down the road on my way back to Billings.
The (second) Call
...to be continued…