Golden Apples honor top educators

Published: April 16, 2007 | 6022nd good news item since 2003

Room 315 of Senior High looks as much like an art studio as a classroom. The white dry-erase boards have detailed drawings of sea life and humans, and the directions penned on the board look as if they were done by an expert illustrator.

The designs are the work of teacher Dan Bartsch, who teaches biology and anatomy.

He designs the text and illustrations for worksheets and tests and, according to Senior High Principal Dennis Holmes, has found innovative ways to catch students’ attention and keep them engaged until the minute they leave the room.

His class was interrupted Tuesday when he was surprised with a Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching. He was nominated for the award by several students and a fellow teacher.

“I have the best job in the world, so it’s kind of hard to be rewarded for that,” Bartsch told his class.

His sentiments were probably shared by the four other Golden Apple winners and the five Billings Education Association honorees who were also surprised Tuesday.

Teacher Leslie Jimmerson of Eagle Cliffs Elementary; Aaron Roberts, a music teacher at Will James Middle School; Maureen Klaboe, a counselor at Broadwater Elementary; and Ryan Truscott, a teacher at Poly Drive Elementary, were also chosen.

The Golden Apple honorees were selected from more than 100 nomination letters from parents, students, fellow educators and community members. The annual awards give the public a chance to recognize teachers.

“It’s the extra things. I think if you look at any teacher they’ve all done something great, and this recognizes teachers for going above and beyond,” said Mary Keeley, a member of the Golden Apple Committee that chose this year’s award recipients.

The BEA award winners were nominated by their peers and chosen by a committee of teachers.

This year’s BEA Teacher of the Year is Eileen Sheehy, a West High American government teacher. She’s National Board Certified, serves on the National Council for Social Studies board of directors, judges the U.S. Institute of Peace Essay Contest and is a recipient of a Madison Fellowship. But all those accomplishments aren’t the reasons her husband thinks she was honored as the teacher of the year. He said her hard work evenings and weekends, her love of children, enthusiasm for the classroom and excitement for the subject are what deserve recognition.

Sheehy said she loves teaching high school seniors and training them in citizenship, which she believes is one of the most important jobs they’ll have throughout their lives.

“It’s like they’re the end result of all those teachers that have worked with these kids,” Sheehy said. “They embody the hopes of our country, and I’m around them when all those hopes come to a head. It’s exciting.”

Other BEA award recipients included Skyview High teacher Mike Walz, for his dedication to the community. Walz sponsors the Skyview Honor Guard and is a Boy Scouts leader. He volunteers for Little League baseball and Little Guy football as well as YMCA sports programs.

Liz Fulton, a parent volunteer at Poly Drive, was recognized for her involvement in the school, where she started a book club for every grade level and recruited parent volunteers to lead discussions during lunch.

Lewis and Clark Middle School secretary Julie Reichert was honored for her strong work ethic and dedication to the school.

Jay Lemelin, the principal at Rose Park Elementary, received the Exemplary Administrator award for his leadership and inspiration of staff and relationships with the children at the school.

Published in Teachers
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