Wednesday was already an especially busy day for Mary Enright – even before she was surprised with a Golden Apple Award.
Enright, who has been with Billings Public Schools since 1986, was selected by panels of community volunteers for the support professional award. As a testing technician for Adult Education, Enright is the first person students meet when they are tested upon entering the program. And she is the person who administers GED tests when students are completing the program. Enright was praised for making students feel comfortable and welcome, reducing their test stress and working tirelessly to accommodate their schedules. At GED graduations, Enright gets lots of hugs when she congratulates each student.
On Wednesday, she was giving GED tests morning and afternoon. On her 45-minute lunch break, she made a quick appearance at the Golden Apple luncheon, but hurried back to Lincoln Education Center to avoid any delay for her students.
Like Enright, all this year’s education award winners demonstrate consistent caring for students. The Golden Apple Awards have long been a Billings tradition for celebrating outstanding educators. The program is run by volunteers with assistance from SD2 and the Billings Chamber of Commerce. Traditionally, the Billings Education Association announces its annual award winners the same day. We congratulate all these education award winners.
- Jamie Jarvis teaches geography at Lewis and Clark Middle School where his students learn in pairs, pods or individually. He accompanies students on annual trips to Washington, D.C., and started the Two Roads community service project to help students give back to their community. Jarvis was chosen BEA Teacher of the Year
- Laura McCoy teaches second grade at Trinity Lutheran School where she shares her love of math, reading and science daily and organizes frequent activities and field trips. “She takes the time to visit with you as the parent to see how things are going,” one parent wrote in nominating McCoy for the Golden Apple.
- Kerra Olson teaches first grade at Boulder Elementary. One of her Golden Apple nominators wrote: “For students to thrive, teachers have to be intelligent, creative and innovative, breaking from and moving beyond the education path of least resistance. She possesses all of the above traits in abundance.”
- Deborah Richau, seventh grade life science teacher at Will James Middle School will retire this spring after completing 35 years with SD2. She has taught elementary and high school, and was involved in the Garfield to College program where she followed students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
- Molly Reas teaches health enhancement at Poly Drive Elementary where a parent praised her for “being a positive role model, with her emphasis on fitness, health, and citizenship, along with her ability to connect with kids.”
- Chuck Swarm teaches biology, human anatomy and physiology at West High and is a technology integration specialist. “He is always happy and eager to help any student who is struggling, but also encourages a great deal of independence and problem solving during labs and activities,” one of Swarm’s students wrote.
-Darrell Tunnicliff, is a tireless volunteer who founded Arts Without Boundaries, a nonprofit organization devoted to encouraging student participation in the arts throughout Montana. Arts Without Boundaries has purchased musical instruments and made them available at no charge to students and sponsored a poetry and creative writing workshop for McKinley Elementary third graders. Tunnicliff was named BEA Friend of Education.
All eight of these winners will be honored at the annual Education Appreciation Banquet on April 25.
Dozens of Golden Apple volunteers also deserve thanks for the many hours spent organizing, communicating and reading the letters of nomination. Rilla Hargrove and Christy Bouck co-chaired this year’s committee. The volunteers’ work reminds the community how important quality education is to all of us in Billings.