Golden Key of Professionalism Award This honor exemplifies a teacher who demonstrates excellence in education. His contributions have shown his involvement in the educational community and that he has diligently worked for his professional association. Tom Cubbage, a 23-year, science teacher at C M Russell High School has earned the respect of his colleagues and was awarded with this recognition for having gone “above and beyond.” Throughout his 27 year career, 23 of these at CMRussell High School, Tom currently has taught students in AP Biology and Biology 1-2; however, he has also taught and coached Speech and Debate Tom has demonstrated excellence in education through his involvement in both educational excellence and leadership. Tom serves educators in multiple ways: as a board member on the Certification Standards and Practices Advisory Council, as the District XV Director of the National Science Teachers’ Association and as a Nationally Board Certified Teacher, he promotes national certification as the current Montana ambassador for certification. Tom also works for teachers as the 2nd Vice President of GFEA.
Silver Apple Award Individual: Jo Ann Wright received this award because of her loyal, compassionate, respectful, patient and reliable volunteer work at Longfellow Elementary School. Jo Ann gives of her time working up to four full days a week and helping with summer school. She provides classroom resources from supplies and snacks to valuable life lessons from her travels and experiences. Throughout the 11 years Jo Ann has volunteered, she has worked with over 1,000 students.
Silver Apple Award Group: Masonic Euclid Lodge #58 With its past and current Master Thomas Duffy and David Vasque, the Euclid Lodge has a tradition of supporting Great Falls public schools and their teachers. Annually, the Masons invite teachers, and sometimes students, to participate in a dinner to honor public education in its Public Schools Night. Each year, the Master of the Lodge chooses a project to support. Then, they train young masons to become directly involved with local schools through the Reading for a Book Program, Bikes for Books, and monies donated to support individual classrooms across the School District. Special Education teachers were honored this year. They were invited to dine, share their stories and offered a chance to accept a donation form the Masons to each teacher for their work with Great Falls kids.
Outstanding Faculty Representatives Outstanding representatives nominated by teachers from their respective buildings: Eric Bush from Whittier Elementary, Kristin Jacobson and Lance Olson from East Middle School, Alex Rosenleaf from C M Russell High School, Doug Deffé from Great Falls High School, Nathan Hicks from Chief Joseph Elementary, Gary Jenkins from Morning Side Elementary, Laurie Matteson from Lincoln Elementary, Alyssa Finch from Roosevelt Elementary, Pam Margaris from Loy Elementary, Anna Geary from Valley View Elementary and Scott Pasek from Paris Gibson Alternative Education Center.
Outstanding Educator of the Year Tara Habel, a teacher for 13 years at Valley View Elementary school has taught a variety of grades in her time with Great Falls Public Schools; she currently teaches first grade. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated excellence in education through her incredible work ethic, dedication to students and her passion for teaching. Other educators nominating her said, “Tara is a patient and kind teacher. She takes special consideration and time with students who need it. She has a love for her students and it shows in her interactions with parents, students and other teachers.” Tara’s involvement extends beyond the classroom in that she has been instrumental in implementing the Striving Readers’ Grant. She is a member of the school leadership team and works diligently to keep the teachers moving forward as a learning organization. Tara is a master at communicating with families and providing the tools to use at home to support children. “And yet, the most important thing to know about Mrs. Habel’s teaching ability−she goes ‘all in’ for every student and every subject. She spends many weekend and after school hours planning and researching the latest strategies, examining data to improve her teaching and student learning. She is willing to work with other teachers to come up with plans for student success. Tara builds relationships with parents, teachers and students. “Her calm and soothing voice, sense of humor, rapport built upon trust and respect and her ability to engage students in their learning environment, show evidence that students feel safe taking learning risks in her classroom. All who enter her class realize that students gain a sense of competence in her expert hands… Tara always goes above and beyond for each of her students.”
Silver Key Awards Recognized for his personal service, counsel and direction to the GFEA president, and in recognition of his positive attitude and “building representation well beyond what would be considered “outstanding,” Gary Jenkins from MorningSide Elementary has been selected as the Silver Key recipient. His colleagues have spoken quite clearly. They said,
“He is so kind and thoughtful to all staff and students. He responds to any questions or concerns brought to his attention. If he doesn’t know the answer, he always gets back to us with the language.”
“He is an unbelievable person. He is always putting other people’s needs before himself. He has amazing skills at making anyone he is around feel welcome and special. He maintains a strict level of professionalism without compromising his character. He truly, deeply cares about all of his co-workers and students, and that translates into strong relationships. I know he is someone that can be depended on no matter what the situation. He is a fair, honest and reliable representative of GFEA. His honesty and support are unmatched and so appreciated. I am a better person because I have him in my life. He makes work a better place to be.
He works diligently each day to provide staff support and information about our rights as educators… Sometimes representing a diverse team can be difficult, but he always shows respect and compassion and follows through quickly when issues arrive.
When it comes to the teachers here at our school, he is our #1 team player. He never hesitates to go to bat for us when we need him. He is trustworthy, respectable, honest and fair. He clearly relays information and checks in with us regularly to make sure our questions get asked and answered.