Subscribe for 17¢ / day

As the academic year comes to an end and Missoula’s students move up a grade, or move on to college, another school group takes a significant step as well.

After long careers in education, the following school teachers and administrators are retiring.

As we honor them for their commitment to Missoula’s youth, these many professionals who responded to a Missoulian questionnaire share their reflections on teaching and education during the past 25 years or more.

***

Jack Sturgis, Lewis and Clark principal, teacher for 28 years, MEA union president for two years, and principal at Lewis and Clark for the past four years.

First school?

Fifth grade at Hellgate Elementary.

Teaching specialty?

As elementary teachers we are specialists in all subject areas, however, when I taught sixth grade at Rattlesnake Middle School my specialty was science.

Favorite grade to teach?

My favorite grade to teach has always been fifth grade. I student-taught in second grade at Lolo Elementary; taught third and fifth grade at Hellgate Elementary; third grade at Quentin Brown Elementary in Corvallis; Title 1, 3/4 combination grade, and fifth grade at Lowell; sixth grade at Rattlesnake Middle School; and fifth grade at Hawthorne Elementary. Fifth-graders have a sense of humor, are getting to the age where they like to test and push the limits, are independent and creative thinkers, and can make decisions about what and how they learn. I also liked teaching that particular curriculum.

Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

How teachers collaborate. For many years we closed our doors and taught our kids. We were focused on teaching. Now we are focused and working as a team, helping and supporting each other, and making sure that our students are learning the material. We are focused on the four big questions in education: What do we want our students to know and be able to do? How will we know? What will we do if they don’t know it? What will we do if they do know it? The other significant change was/is the availability of technology. When I started there were no classroom computers or VCRs. That clearly has changed.

A standout teaching moment?

The most standout moments in education are when a teacher builds a relationship with his/her class, where there is mutual trust and respect, and when students grow beyond what they thought they were capable of both personally and academically.

What have your students taught you?

Patience, humility and understanding.

***

Dave Hansen, Lolo Middle School principal, educator for 35 years, taught for 22 years, served as assistant principal for 10 years as assistant principal, and principal at Lolo for 13 years.

First school?

Taught and coached on the Hi-Line at Harlem Junior High and High School.

Teaching specialty?

My major is in English and my minor is in speech/communication.

Favorite grade to teach?

My favorite grades to teach would be seventh and eighth. I have spent 34 of 35 years at that grade level.

Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

The change in the family structure is probably the most noticeable. With the economy the way it is, many times parents are working two or three jobs to keep the family afloat and there is little adult contact with students to monitor homework, social media use and video game usage, school attendance ... parental involvement is key to student success – at all levels.

A standout teaching moment?

There have been a number of successes along the way, but I think the most gratifying experience has taken place years after I had taught particular students and they come back, even some of the students I had challenges with, and we sit down and have an adult conversation. We can talk about them retrospectively (behavior, activities, etc.), what they are currently doing and what their plans are for the future. It feels good when we finish and they say “thank you” for putting up with them and helping them to get through school. Ultimately, isn’t that what it’s all about?

What have your students taught you?

They have taught me how resilient they can be if they are given the chance to grow, learn and know that someone has faith in them no matter how challenging they might be. As the saying goes, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

***

Maribeth Rothwell, second-grade teacher at Rattlesnake Elementary, co-directed the extra-curricular theater arts program at Hellgate High School for 17 years with her husband, Bolton, until his death in November 2012. Began teaching for MCPS as a substitute teacher, worked full time as a teacher in the district for 22 years.

First school?

Seventh-grade language arts at Meadow Hill Middle School.

Teaching specialty?

I’ve taught many subject areas including communication arts, math, science, social studies, health and physical education. Although I have enjoyed teaching all of them, spoken and written words are the medium through which I find the most gratifying personal expression, and I’ve endeavored to inspire my students to become lifelong readers and writers.

Favorite grade to teach?

Wherever I’ve been has always felt like the best place to be.

What has been the most significant change to your job during your tenure?

I believe that the arts are an essential component of learning. I returned to school 15 years ago to earn my master of arts degree in fine arts education in the Creative Pulse program at the University of Montana. That experience affirmed my belief in the importance of being my authentic self as a teacher, and continuing to reflect upon my practices so that I am always learning and growing.

A standout teaching moment?

So many moments come to mind: listening to sixth-grade authors share their beautiful and powerful words with an audience; watching a transcendent theatrical performance by high school students after eight rigorous weeks of rehearsal; tramping over the North Hills to the Moon-Randolph Homestead with second-graders who are barely able to contain their excitement at being in the natural world; feeling humbled by the fierce and abiding dedication of colleagues.

What have your students taught you?

We are all creative beings with unlimited potential, and my job as a teacher is to discover and awaken that potential within my students. As important as it is to bring skills and knowledge to this profession, the most powerful tool for teaching remains the ability to build authentic relationships. It is an honor and a privilege to teach.

***

Denise Giuliani, Rattlesnake Elementary kindergarten teacher. A teacher for 30 years, worked full time for 20 years and had classrooms in Paxson and Lewis and Clark elementary schools.

Teaching specialty?

I have always taught kindergarten.

Favorite grade to teach?

I have enjoyed the exuberance and random thought train of 5- and 6-year-olds. They are eager to try most anything and possess a unique outlook on life – it’s all about them! They are experts at most things and will be the first to let you know they have a cat if you are talking about something totally unrelated. Hmm, speaking of cats, my husband often compares teaching kindergarten to herding cats.

What has been the most significant change to your job during your tenure?

Other than the advancement of technology and how it relates to education, I would have to say the implementation of full-day kindergarten has been the most significant change specifically for kindergarten students, families and teachers. Prior to full-day kindergarten, I taught two classes of students with a minimum of 20 students in each 2 1/2 hour session. We packed a lot of learning into a short time. I appreciate being more present with my students and families in the full-day option.

A standout teaching moment?

Wow, this is a hard one. I really can’t pinpoint a single standout teaching moment. I know I have invested many hours and sleepless nights planning and reflecting upon my responsibilities as a teacher. I like to think that each day brought beneficial learning in some form, whether it was academic, artistic, physical, social or emotional growth.

What have your students taught you?

My students have taught me how to balance being firm and flexible. They have also given me the opportunity to practice the art of tying shoes and removing knots from shoe laces, zipping zippers and getting zippers unstuck, finding lost jackets and mittens, wiping tears and applying Band-Aids, mediating conflicts and receiving hugs. As I look over my collection of photos of former students, I am humbled to think how blessed I have been to have had this amazing career. They have made my life richer. I am so grateful to have had the chance to do something I have loved. Thank you, former students and families.

***

Karen Hansen, Bonner School second-grade teacher, taught at Bonner for the entirety of her 34-year career.

Teaching specialty?

Elementary teacher.

Favorite grade to teach?

Second grade. This is the grade that reading is mastered. That is a great gift to give a child. I always hoped to give every student the love of reading.

What is the most significant change to your job during your tenure?

The technology that I’ve had to learn – like computers, smart boards, document cameras. Students are expected to learn many skills on computers today and they are definitely good at it.

A standout teaching moment?

There have been many memorable moments. One of my first moments was when I was teaching seventh- and eighth-grade English. I had a student who was struggling to get a D. I just couldn’t seem to motivate him. Then basketball season came and he made the team; however, he needed a C to play. He came to me and asked me to give him a C. I told him he had to earn it and then I gave him my home number. He called me every night for help for the season and he kept his C. Three years later I ran into him at the mall. He told me proudly that he had a B in English. He told me realized after his eighth-grade year he could do it and thanked me.

What have your students taught you?

My students have taught me that they want to succeed. It is my job to find the right strategy for each of them to learn.

***

Stephen Harris, Hellgate Middle School vice principal, has worked at Hellgate since 1977.

Teaching specialty?

Many teachers know how to impart their specialty, be it math, reading, science, etc. Student success, however, comes from building a positive relationship with your students as well as their parents. I would like to think that I have learned how to listen to students with both ears and treat them and their parents with the respect and dignity that I would expect.

Favorite grade to teach?

While at Hellgate I have taught third, fifth, sixth and seventh grades. I also taught an alternative classroom as well as a practical arts program. The entire curriculum for the practical arts program was written by me when I was teaching in the sixth grade. Presently, I am the vice principal.

Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

I have been in education so long, I can remember chasing dinosaurs from the classroom, spearing woolly mammoths for lunch, staring fires for heat and making sure the slates and chisels were ready before the children arrived for the day. Seriously, technology has changed the vehicle of education more than any other component. I do remember starting using a black chalkboard with dusty chalk sticks. Then came green boards, then brown boards and some even had lines, wow. Next, we had white boards with dry erase markers, and they came in colors, fantastic. Could it get any better? Well, it did. We now have smart boards and projectors in every room. They can do just about everything a teacher can ask of them. Computers? When I started teaching the only thing I knew about computers was from my days in the Air Force. And those computers were the size of two large refrigerators welded together. Now we can hold that technology in the palm of a child’s hand.

A standout teaching moment?

Most teachers attempt to create the moments that ignite the fire, passion and motivate each student to learn. With age I have learned those special moments happened and I did not know it at the time. They come many years later when a student returns to see me. They have finished high school, college, the military or found a job and they just have to drop by to say, “thank you.” Of all the influences in their lives, I made a difference for them. That pulls at my heart strings.

What have your students taught you?

As adults we are engulfed in the struggle to get from day to day, paycheck to paycheck. We lose our sense of wonder and excitement about each day. Children keep us grounded and remind us each day is filled with awe, joy and fascination. Children remind me of Emerson’s quote, which I try to live by: “Be silly, be honest and be kind.”

***

Judy Karl, Bonner School third-grade teacher, has taught her entire career at Bonner, where she taught for 42 years and attended grade school there as a child.

Teaching specialty?

I’ve taught the third grade for 36 of my 42 years. I also taught in the computer lab for four years and enjoy teaching computers.

Favorite grade to teach?

I would have to say third-graders; they are a wonderful age because they are so enthusiastic about learning.

Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

There have been a lot of changes in education during my years. Perhaps the one that stands out the most is the move into the age of technology. When I first started there was not a computer in the building; now there are times during the day when there’s one on every student’s desk in my classroom. We’ve gone from chalkboards to whiteboards to smart boards. I must say it’s a change that I have embraced and benefited from.

A standout teaching moment?

There have been so many standout teaching moments over my 42 years. Wow, to name just one is so tough, so I’m just going to say that every time there was a smile on one of my student’s faces, I knew I had chosen the right profession. I had become a teacher because they were the light of my day. I will miss them dearly.

What have your students taught you?

Oh my goodness, they teach me something new every day (some things are quite interesting). They’ve taught me that I will never win the school spelling bee because they have to help me spell and that I can’t tell time because we are late for recess, lunch and the bus. The most important thing that they taught me is that they just wanted me to care about them. I do care about those 1,000-plus students who went through my classrooms... they made Bonner School a better place and me a better person.

***

Steven Gustuson, also known as “Mr. Gus,” has taught 31 years, the last 25 years with MCPS teaching art to all grade levels.

First school?

I started with split days between Big Sky and Sentinel high schools, and the next few years split between Hellgate and Sentinel high schools. I spent the remainder of my high school experience at Sentinel. After 18 years at the high schools I transferred to Washington Middle School for my last seven years. Within my 25 years of service to MCPS I completed my master’s degree plus 45 units and have been a cooperating teacher for 20 student-teachers.

Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

I would have to say the biggest change in my tenure with MCPS was the move from high school to middle school. I’ve often been asked which I liked better between the two. I’ve enjoyed both levels for various reasons. I’ve had great pleasure assisting advanced placement art students attain partial college credit as well as full-ride scholarships to art schools. Working with middle school students has taught me to appreciate their enthusiasm and openness to various art concepts.

A standout teaching moment?

Overall, the teachable moments are when the faces of my students, at all levels, light up when they have problem-solved or discovered something new for themselves.

What have your students taught you?

On some occasions I have learned from my students. While experimenting with different mediums or techniques my students have discovered things beyond what they were assigned. They have shown me new ways to implement certain skills to the students of the future.

***

Bruce Whitehead has been a Missoula educator for 42 years, most currently serving as principal for Hellgate Elementary’s third- through fifth-graders.

Teaching specialty?

Social studies and history.

Favorite grade to teach or work with?

I enjoyed being an administrator of grades K-8.

Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

The positive involvement of parents in our schools.

A standout teaching moment?

A standout teaching moment was the chance to teach and be a school administrator alongside truly outstanding professionals.

What have your students taught you?

My students have taught me that every person at school is unique and special – and each makes their own contribution to society.

***

Diane Holden currently teaches second grade at Cold Springs Elementary, has taught school for 32 years.

First school?

The first school I taught at was Stevensville Elementary School as a Title I coordinator.

Teaching specialty?

I enjoy teaching science and the hands-on learning opportunities it presents for the children.

Favorite grade to teach?

Every grade from kindergarten to second grade has challenged me to become a better teacher. I will always carry in my heart a fondness for the little ones.

Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

Technology has expanded my entire spectrum of teaching. While understanding the need for measurable improvement of student performance, the increased amount of required testing has narrowed my creativity in teaching.

A standout teaching moment?

My standout moment is the anticipation of the first day of every year when I look into the eyes of each child and know they will change my life. My hope is I will change their life as well.

What have your students taught you?

What students have taught me is that every day I consciously make a commitment to show up and be there for my children; they in turn do the same for me.

***

Jo Austin has taught for 34 years and is currently a kindergarten teacher at Bonner School.

First school?

The first community I taught at was Lewistown. I developed the preschool handicapped program and then taught preschool handicapped in the morning. In the afternoon, I went to a primary school and was the special education resource teacher.

Teaching specialty?

For many years I was a special education teacher and Title I teacher working with students in kindergarten through eighth grade. I am now a kindergarten teacher. My specialty area would have to be reading.

Favorite grade to teach?

I have enjoyed teaching at the primary level. My favorite grade to teach is kindergarten. The students are so eager to learn. They are open and honest with their expressions. Everything is new and exciting to them.

Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

The development of technology. The first classroom I was in had only two outlets and a chalkboard.

A standout teaching moment?

My standout teaching moments have happened throughout my career, when a student suddenly understands the concept I’m teaching and jumps up to announce, “I get it!”

What have your students taught you?

My students have taught me patience, to appreciate the joy in a moment, and the value of hugs and smiles.

***

Tom Ross, Big Sky High School mathematics teacher, taught for 35 years.

First school?

Sentinel High School.

Teaching specialty?

Math.

What was your favorite grade to teach?

Honors geometry … motivated, capable.

What has been the most significant change to your job during your tenure?

Too many students are not being held accountable for their choices and attendance. Graduation Matters is putting the wrong emphasis when it should be “Education Matters.” School as an educational institution is deteriorating. Students are receiving diplomas when they have not earned them.

A standout teaching moment?

Watching students be successful and feeling good about really understanding as the result of hard work and effort.

What have your students taught you?

To never give up on them but to hold them accountable.

Missoulian

As the academic year comes to an end and Missoula’s students move up a grade, or move on to college, another school group takes a significant step as well.

After long careers in education, the following school teachers and administrators are retiring.

As we honor them for their commitment to Missoula’s youth, these many professionals who responded to a Missoulian questionnaire share their reflections on teaching and education during the past 25 years or more.

Jack Sturgis, Lewis and Clark principal, teacher for 28 years, MEA union president for two years, and principal at Lewis and Clark for the past four years.

n First school?

Fifth grade at Hellgate Elementary.

n Teaching specialty?

As elementary teachers we are specialists in all subject areas, however, when I taught sixth grade at Rattlesnake Middle School my specialty was science.

n Favorite grade to teach?

My favorite grade to teach has always been fifth grade. I student-taught in second grade at Lolo Elementary; taught third and fifth grade at Hellgate Elementary; third grade at Quentin Brown Elementary in Corvallis; Title 1, 3/4 combination grade, and fifth grade at Lowell; sixth grade at Rattlesnake Middle School; and fifth grade at Hawthorne Elementary. Fifth-graders have a sense of humor, are getting to the age where they like to test and push the limits, are independent and creative thinkers, and can make decisions about what and how they learn. I also liked teaching that particular curriculum.

n Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

How teachers collaborate. For many years we closed our doors and taught our kids. We were focused on teaching. Now we are focused and working as a team, helping and supporting each other, and making sure that our students are learning the material. We are focused on the four big questions in education: What do we want our students to know and be able to do? How will we know? What will we do if they don’t know it? What will we do if they do know it? The other significant change was/is the availability of technology. When I started there were no classroom computers or VCRs. That clearly has changed.

n A standout teaching moment?

The most standout moments in education are when a teacher builds a relationship with his/her class, where there is mutual trust and respect, and when students grow beyond what they thought they were capable of both personally and academically.

n What have your students taught you?

Patience, humility and understanding.

Dave Hansen, Lolo Middle School principal, educator for 35 years, taught for 22 years, served as assistant principal for 10 years as assistant principal, and principal at Lolo for 13 years.

n First school?

Taught and coached on the Hi-Line at Harlem Junior High and High School.

n Teaching specialty?

My major is in English and my minor is in speech/communication.

n Favorite grade to teach?

My favorite grades to teach would be seventh and eighth. I have spent 34 of 35 years at that grade level.

n Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

The change in the family structure is probably the most noticeable. With the economy the way it is, many times parents are working two or three jobs to keep the family afloat and there is little adult contact with students to monitor homework, social media use and video game usage, school attendance ... parental involvement is key to student success – at all levels.

n A standout teaching moment?

There have been a number of successes along the way, but I think the most gratifying experience has taken place years after I had taught particular students and they come back, even some of the students I had challenges with, and we sit down and have an adult conversation. We can talk about them retrospectively (behavior, activities, etc.), what they are currently doing and what their plans are for the future. It feels good when we finish and they say “thank you” for putting up with them and helping them to get through school. Ultimately, isn’t that what it’s all about?

n What have your students taught you?

They have taught me how resilient they can be if they are given the chance to grow, learn and know that someone has faith in them no matter how challenging they might be. As the saying goes, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Maribeth Rothwell, second-grade teacher at Rattlesnake Elementary, co-directed the extra-curricular theater arts program at Hellgate High School for 17 years with her husband, Bolton, until his death in November 2012. Began teaching for MCPS as a substitute teacher, worked full time as a teacher in the district for 22 years.

n First school?

Seventh-grade language arts at Meadow Hill Middle School.

n Teaching specialty?

I’ve taught many subject areas including communication arts, math, science, social studies, health and physical education. Although I have enjoyed teaching all of them, spoken and written words are the medium through which I find the most gratifying personal expression, and I’ve endeavored to inspire my students to become lifelong readers and writers.

n Favorite grade to teach?

Wherever I’ve been has always felt like the best place to be.

n What has been the most significant change to your job during your tenure?

I believe that the arts are an essential component of learning. I returned to school 15 years ago to earn my master of arts degree in fine arts education in the Creative Pulse program at the University of Montana. That experience affirmed my belief in the importance of being my authentic self as a teacher, and continuing to reflect upon my practices so that I am always learning and growing.

n A standout teaching moment?

So many moments come to mind: listening to sixth-grade authors share their beautiful and powerful words with an audience; watching a transcendent theatrical performance by high school students after eight rigorous weeks of rehearsal; tramping over the North Hills to the Moon-Randolph Homestead with second-graders who are barely able to contain their excitement at being in the natural world; feeling humbled by the fierce and abiding dedication of colleagues.

n What have your students taught you?

We are all creative beings with unlimited potential, and my job as a teacher is to discover and awaken that potential within my students. As important as it is to bring skills and knowledge to this profession, the most powerful tool for teaching remains the ability to build authentic relationships. It is an honor and a privilege to teach.

Denise Giuliani, Rattlesnake Elementary kindergarten teacher. A teacher for 30 years, worked full time for 20 years and had classrooms in Paxson and Lewis and Clark elementary schools.

n Teaching specialty?

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

I have always taught kindergarten.

n Favorite grade to teach?

I have enjoyed the exuberance and random thought train of 5- and 6-year-olds. They are eager to try most anything and possess a unique outlook on life – it’s all about them! They are experts at most things and will be the first to let you know they have a cat if you are talking about something totally unrelated. Hmm, speaking of cats, my husband often compares teaching kindergarten to herding cats.

n What has been the most significant change to your job during your tenure?

Other than the advancement of technology and how it relates to education, I would have to say the implementation of full-day kindergarten has been the most significant change specifically for kindergarten students, families and teachers. Prior to full-day kindergarten, I taught two classes of students with a minimum of 20 students in each 2 1/2 hour session. We packed a lot of learning into a short time. I appreciate being more present with my students and families in the full-day option.

n A standout teaching moment?

Wow, this is a hard one. I really can’t pinpoint a single standout teaching moment. I know I have invested many hours and sleepless nights planning and reflecting upon my responsibilities as a teacher. I like to think that each day brought beneficial learning in some form, whether it was academic, artistic, physical, social or emotional growth.

n What have your students taught you?

My students have taught me how to balance being firm and flexible. They have also given me the opportunity to practice the art of tying shoes and removing knots from shoe laces, zipping zippers and getting zippers unstuck, finding lost jackets and mittens, wiping tears and applying Band-Aids, mediating conflicts and receiving hugs. As I look over my collection of photos of former students, I am humbled to think how blessed I have been to have had this amazing career. They have made my life richer. I am so grateful to have had the chance to do something I have loved. Thank you, former students and families.

Karen Hansen, Bonner School second-grade teacher, taught at Bonner for the entirety of her 34-year career.

n Teaching specialty?

Elementary teacher.

n Favorite grade to teach?

Second grade. This is the grade that reading is mastered. That is a great gift to give a child. I always hoped to give every student the love of reading.

n What is the most significant change to your job during your tenure?

The technology that I’ve had to learn – like computers, smart boards, document cameras. Students are expected to learn many skills on computers today and they are definitely good at it.

n A standout teaching moment?

There have been many memorable moments. One of my first moments was when I was teaching seventh- and eighth-grade English. I had a student who was struggling to get a D. I just couldn’t seem to motivate him. Then basketball season came and he made the team; however, he needed a C to play. He came to me and asked me to give him a C. I told him he had to earn it and then I gave him my home number. He called me every night for help for the season and he kept his C. Three years later I ran into him at the mall. He told me proudly that he had a B in English. He told me realized after his eighth-grade year he could do it and thanked me.

n What have your students taught you?

My students have taught me that they want to succeed. It is my job to find the right strategy for each of them to learn.

Stephen Harris, Hellgate Middle School vice principal, has worked at Hellgate since 1977.

n Teaching specialty?

Many teachers know how to impart their specialty, be it math, reading, science, etc. Student success, however, comes from building a positive relationship with your students as well as their parents. I would like to think that I have learned how to listen to students with both ears and treat them and their parents with the respect and dignity that I would expect.

n Favorite grade to teach?

While at Hellgate I have taught third, fifth, sixth and seventh grades. I also taught an alternative classroom as well as a practical arts program. The entire curriculum for the practical arts program was written by me when I was teaching in the sixth grade. Presently, I am the vice principal.

n Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

I have been in education so long, I can remember chasing dinosaurs from the classroom, spearing woolly mammoths for lunch, staring fires for heat and making sure the slates and chisels were ready before the children arrived for the day. Seriously, technology has changed the vehicle of education more than any other component. I do remember starting using a black chalkboard with dusty chalk sticks. Then came green boards, then brown boards and some even had lines, wow. Next, we had white boards with dry erase markers, and they came in colors, fantastic. Could it get any better? Well, it did. We now have smart boards and projectors in every room. They can do just about everything a teacher can ask of them. Computers? When I started teaching the only thing I knew about computers was from my days in the Air Force. And those computers were the size of two large refrigerators welded together. Now we can hold that technology in the palm of a child’s hand.

n A standout teaching moment?

Most teachers attempt to create the moments that ignite the fire, passion and motivate each student to learn. With age I have learned those special moments happened and I did not know it at the time. They come many years later when a student returns to see me. They have finished high school, college, the military or found a job and they just have to drop by to say, “thank you.” Of all the influences in their lives, I made a difference for them. That pulls at my heart strings.

n What have your students taught you?

As adults we are engulfed in the struggle to get from day to day, paycheck to paycheck. We lose our sense of wonder and excitement about each day. Children keep us grounded and remind us each day is filled with awe, joy and fascination. Children remind me of Emerson’s quote, which I try to live by: “Be silly, be honest and be kind.”

Judy Karl, Bonner School third-grade teacher, has taught her entire career at Bonner, where she taught for 42 years and attended grade school there as a child.

n Teaching specialty?

I’ve taught the third grade for 36 of my 42 years. I also taught in the computer lab for four years and enjoy teaching computers.

n Favorite grade to teach?

I would have to say third-graders; they are a wonderful age because they are so enthusiastic about learning.

n Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

There have been a lot of changes in education during my years. Perhaps the one that stands out the most is the move into the age of technology. When I first started there was not a computer in the building; now there are times during the day when there’s one on every student’s desk in my classroom. We’ve gone from chalkboards to whiteboards to smart boards. I must say it’s a change that I have embraced and benefited from.

n A standout teaching moment?

There have been so many standout teaching moments over my 42 years. Wow, to name just one is so tough, so I’m just going to say that every time there was a smile on one of my student’s faces, I knew I had chosen the right profession. I had become a teacher because they were the light of my day. I will miss them dearly.

n What have your students taught you?

Oh my goodness, they teach me something new every day (some things are quite interesting). They’ve taught me that I will never win the school spelling bee because they have to help me spell and that I can’t tell time because we are late for recess, lunch and the bus. The most important thing that they taught me is that they just wanted me to care about them. I do care about those 1,000-plus students who went through my classrooms... they made Bonner School a better place and me a better person.

Steven Gustuson, also known as “Mr. Gus,” has taught 31 years, the last 25 years with MCPS teaching art to all grade levels.

n First MCPS school?

I started with split days between Big Sky and Sentinel high schools, and the next few years split between Hellgate and Sentinel high schools. I spent the remainder of my high school experience at Sentinel. After 18 years at the high schools I transferred to Washington Middle School for my last seven years. Within my 25 years of service to MCPS I completed my master’s degree plus 45 units and have been a cooperating teacher for 20 student-teachers.

n Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

I would have to say the biggest change in my tenure with MCPS was the move from high school to middle school. I’ve often been asked which I liked better between the two. I’ve enjoyed both levels for various reasons. I’ve had great pleasure assisting advanced placement art students attain partial college credit as well as full-ride scholarships to art schools. Working with middle school students has taught me to appreciate their enthusiasm and openness to various art concepts.

n A standout teaching moment?

Overall, the teachable moments are when the faces of my students, at all levels, light up when they have problem-solved or discovered something new for themselves.

n What have your students taught you?

On some occasions I have learned from my students. While experimenting with different mediums or techniques my students have discovered things beyond what they were assigned. They have shown me new ways to implement certain skills to the students of the future.

Bruce Whitehead has been a Missoula educator for 42 years, most currently serving as principal for Hellgate Elementary’s third- through fifth-graders.

n Teaching specialty?

Social studies and history.

n Favorite grade to teach or work with?

I enjoyed being an administrator of grades K-8.

n Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

The positive involvement of parents in our schools.

n A standout teaching moment?

A standout teaching moment was the chance to teach and be a school administrator alongside truly outstanding professionals.

n What have your students taught you?

My students have taught me that every person at school is unique and special – and each makes their own contribution to society.

Diane Holden currently teaches second grade at Cold Springs Elementary, has taught school for 32 years.

n First school?

The first school I taught at was Stevensville Elementary School as a Title I coordinator.

n Teaching specialty?

I enjoy teaching science and the hands-on learning opportunities it presents for the children.

n Favorite grade to teach?

Every grade from kindergarten to second grade has challenged me to become a better teacher. I will always carry in my heart a fondness for the little ones.

n Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

Technology has expanded my entire spectrum of teaching. While understanding the need for measurable improvement of student performance, the increased amount of required testing has narrowed my creativity in teaching.

n A standout teaching moment?

My standout moment is the anticipation of the first day of every year when I look into the eyes of each child and know they will change my life. My hope is I will change their life as well.

n What have your students taught you?

What students have taught me is that every day I consciously make a commitment to show up and be there for my children; they in turn do the same for me.

Jo Austin has taught for 34 years and is currently a kindergarten teacher at Bonner School.

n First school?

The first community I taught at was Lewistown. I developed the preschool handicapped program and then taught preschool handicapped in the morning. In the afternoon, I went to a primary school and was the special education resource teacher.

n Teaching specialty?

For many years I was a special education teacher and Title I teacher working with students in kindergarten through eighth grade. I am now a kindergarten teacher. My specialty area would have to be reading.

n Favorite grade to teach?

I have enjoyed teaching at the primary level. My favorite grade to teach is kindergarten. The students are so eager to learn. They are open and honest with their expressions. Everything is new and exciting to them.

n Most significant change to your job during your tenure?

The development of technology. The first classroom I was in had only two outlets and a chalkboard.

n A standout teaching moment?

My standout teaching moments have happened throughout my career, when a student suddenly understands the concept I’m teaching and jumps up to announce, “I get it!”

n What have your students taught you?

My students have taught me patience, to appreciate the joy in a moment, and the value of hugs and smiles.

Tom Ross, Big Sky High School mathematics teacher, taught for 35 years.

n First school?

Sentinel High School.

n Teaching specialty?

Math.

n What was your favorite grade to teach?

Honors geometry … motivated, capable.

n What has been the most significant change to your job during your tenure?

Too many students are not being held accountable for their choices and attendance. Graduation Matters is putting the wrong emphasis when it should be “Education Matters.” School as an educational institution is deteriorating. Students are receiving diplomas when they have not earned them.

n A standout teaching moment?

Watching students be successful and feeling good about really understanding as the result of hard work and effort.

n What have your students taught you?

To never give up on them but to hold them accountable.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Reach the Missoulian newsroom at @missoulian, at newsdesk@missoulian.com or at (406) 523-5240

0
0
0
0
0