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Congratulations to all award winners we are honoring this evening!

Click on the image above for photos of each honoree.  Click on the names below to read more about each award recipient.  

Bob Brown - Keynote Speaker

Bob had a long career in public office and public education.  He served 26 years in the Montana legislature, ending as President of the MT Senate. He chaired the Senate Education Committee during four different legislative sessions and was actively involved in three state-wide University System Mill Levy campaigns. He was elected Montana Secretary of State serving from 2000-2004 and was the Republican nominee for Governor in 2004.   Bob was a member of Montana’s Board of Public Education and member and President of the Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees.

From 1996-2002 Bob was an advisor for the US Agency for International Development - International Republican Institute through which he conducted workshops for emerging democracies in Angola, Indonesia, Cambodia, China and Russia. He was a UM exchange instructor at Nankai University, Tianjin, China.

As a senior fellow at both UM Mansfield Center and the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, Bob initiated the Montana Oral History Project (archived in the UM Mansfield Library) conducting interviews of more than 90 influential Montana political figures. He writes monthly op eds for Montana’s newspapers.

Bob is currently a senior fellow at the University of Montana Mansfield Center. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Montana Historical Society and is on the planning committee for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the 1972 Montana Constitution. 


Bill Stockton - 2022 Montana Teacher of the Year

Bill Stockton is the 2022 Montana Teacher of the Year. He teaches biology, AP biology, wildlife biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry and physics for grades 10-12 at Arlee High School in Arlee, Montana. He also teaches earth science for the Montana Digital Academy. Stockton obtained a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Montana and a Master of Science in science education from Montana State University.

In 2018, Stockton created Stock Science Educational Consulting to provide leadership, training and implementation of best practices in integrating the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and to foster integration of the Indian Education for All (IEFA) knowledge, skills, and content into classroom and educational materials. He has presented several times at the IEFA Best Practices conference (hosted by the Montana Office of Public Instruction), the Billings Science and IEFA symposium and the Montana Environmental Education Association conference.

Stockton serves as a teacher leader for the Montana Partnerships with Regions for Excellence in STEM (MPRES) and the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline (NESSP) grants. Through his work with these grants, he has helped teachers from across the state by teaching professional development courses, connecting scientists to teachers, and bringing awareness to the importance of making science current, local, intertwined and student-driven.

More recently, he has used his online teaching experience to provide educational support for districts outside of Montana and co-created a professional development course for best practices in online instruction. Stockton also was a recipient of the 2020 Teresa Veltkamp Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education.

Shianne Schmidt - 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math Teaching

Teaching and watching children grow and be curious about the world is my passion. I have been working in schools as an elementary teacher for 10 years. I received my bachelor degree in Elementary education from Montana State University. My first teaching position took me on an adventure to the bush of Alaska where I taught multiple grades and honed my classroom management skills and started to develop my workshop model that I still use today. I currently teach at Olney- Bissell school in Whitefish where I’ve been for the last 6 years. Over all my years one of my biggest goals has been to make math fun and accessible to ALL students. All my professional development and hard work in this area eventually led me to having the honor and privilege of being awarded the Presidential Award for Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2020. 

Christina Pavlovich - 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching

Christina Pavlovich has taught fifth grade at East Side Intermediate School for 10 years. She has been teaching for 13 years and spent the first three years at Winans Elementary School.

Chris founded and currently directs Watershed Warriors, a place-based, interdisciplinary environmental education program. Her goal in education is to engage science through place-based projects in order for the subject to be relatable, relevant, and accessible. She brings place-based field data into classrooms through partnerships with Montana's Office of Public Instruction, Montana State University, Montana state agencies, teacher leaders, and local scientists. These projects contextualize science in place and time for students and teachers. Current project examples for classrooms include identifying and monitoring pika habitats as indicators of climate change, discussing cause and effect relationships of Earth's systems through local stream restoration projects, examining correlative data between native and nonnative fish species and wildfires, and learning about the processes of sampling ospreys as indicators of water quality.

Chris was awarded the Teresa Veltkamp Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education in 2021; recognized by the Montana Science Teachers Association in 2018 for Distinguished Service to Science Education; named Montana Watershed Teacher of the Year by the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program in 2017, and awarded Montana Educator of the Year by the American Fisheries Society in 2013.

Chris has a B.A. in elementary education and a M.S. in science education from Montana State University; she is pursuing a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction at the institution. She has a Class 1 certification in Montana kindergarten through eighth grade education.

Ryan Cooney - 2022 Montana Global Educator of the Year

Raised in Helena, Montana, Ryan Cooney graduated from Helena High School in 2002. He earned his bachelor's degree and teaching certificate from the University of Montana Western in 2007. He also earned his master's degree from Montana State University in 2015. Ryan taught World Cultures, Government and AP Government at Capital High School from 2007-2018 and currently teaches Government, History and World Cultures at the Project for Alternative Learning in Helena, Montana, as well as Government and AP Government for Montana Digital Academy. Ryan is seriously passionate about social studies, especially current events and global affairs and frequently gets tricked into discussing headlines and current events for entire class periods by his students, who know him far too well.

Personally, Ryan and his wife Erika have one son, Edward Lee Cooney, who was born in August of 2021. They have a cat (Jack), two dogs (Rudy and Blackbeard) and a Honduran Curly Haired Tarantula (Teddy Roosevelt). When not in the classroom, he and his family can be found in the mountains hiking/biking/skiing/snowmobiling, working on the family cabin in Elliston, Montana or on the water at the Gates of the Mountains on the Missouri River. Prior to Eddie arriving, Ryan and Erika travelled extensively and have been to numerous countries, including Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Egypt, South Africa, Cambodia, as well as many other wonderful places around the world and country. 

Ryan feels strongly that the path to a happy, productive and empathetic populace starts with educating students about the wonders of the world and the people who live on it. The challenges we face are immense, but we have the power to vanquish them; the tools that we need to solve our problems are unlocked with knowledge.

Chad Jackson - 2022 MSCA Counselor of the Year

 Chad was born to be a school counselor.  His mom, Starla Jackson, was a teacher for almost 40 years and his father, Kendall Jackson, was a therapist for over 30 years.  He has done many things in education, but he has loved his years as a counselor more than anything else that he’s done.  For the last 11 years he has been the counselor at Ponderosa Elementary in Billings, Montana.  It has been incredibly challenging, but immensely rewarding.  Chad was the first National Board Certified School Counselor in the state of Montana.  He is also a graduate of the Teacher Leadership Initiative in Montana.  He has been able to work on several critical committees within the Billings District to perform such necessary tasks as writing the suicide protocol for the district, helping standardized curriculum for elementary school counselors, and present at the district and state level for some of the programs that he has implemented at this school.  Chad was incredibly humbled this year to win the Golden Apple this year for his contributions to his school.  Finally, this spring he was recognized as the Montana School Counselor of the year for 2021. Upon reflection, Chad asserted that it feels disingenuous to receive any type of recognition without acknowledging that no individual can be successful in a vacuum, rather it is the result of countless people investing and developing an individual that helps someone to achieve success.   With that in mind, he wants to acknowledge the incredible staff at Ponderosa Elementary, teachers and educators that go above and beyond every day without any recognition.  He could not impact students or the school without the unwavering support by fellow teachers.  Every counselor and educator should have a principal like Clay Herron who has fostered and cultivated a school climate of respect and care.  He has to both keep Chad’s crazy ideas grounded, but also manages to support him and allow him to think outside the box.  Most importantly he wants to thank his family.  As already mentioned, Chad’s parents raised him to value and care for people.  They modeled this and taught this to him.  He watched them pour their lives out for people.  There have been days when he was overwhelmed with the weight of his job and burdens, but coming home to his amazing kids, Ellie and Isaac, renewed his sense of hope and faith.  Finally, when Chad has spent his time, energy, and heart helping and caring for people, it was his incredible wife, Emily, that cared and helped sustain him.  Her love has carried him through the hardest and darkest times.  Thank you for recognizing and celebrating not just Chad and his accolades, but acknowledging and valuing the essential nature of school counseling.  We are living in a time and even political climate where the invaluable and essential nature of a school counselor has been under attack and marginalized.  We are living in an unprecedented time with regards to a crisis of mental health: anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and trauma.  Thank you for recognizing the sanctity of a position that is dedicated to the well-being of students so that they can perform their roles as students and come to school to be able to learn.  It is critical to stand up for what is right against agendas that are not in the best interest of our amazing students.  Thank you for your support of the critical role that school counselors play in our Montana schools.

Mike Schmidt - 2021 MIAAA Overall Athletic Director of the Year

Mike Schmidt, Fairfield teacher, coach and high school athletic director, received the 2021 MIAAA OVerall Athletic Director of the Year Award from the Montana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. The award is selected by a small panel of athletic directors from all school classifications

A Fairfield native, Schmidt graduated from Fairfield High School in 1986 and then from the University of Montana with an education degree. He taught at Victor High School and was the assistant girls basketball coach, head boys basketball coach, activities director and track coach there from 1993-2002. Since 2003, he has taught at Fairfield High School. In addition to being the activities director, Schmidt has spent many years coaching high school track, junior high boys basketball, and high school boys basketball.

In 2019, Mike Schmidt was recognized by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association as a Certified Master Athletic Administrator. He also received his Master of Science Degree in Athletic Administration from Grace College in Indiana after completing 36 credit hours while focusing on Educational Athletics and School Marketing.

30 years as a teacher
28 years as an A.D.
Victor High School for 9 years
Fairfield High School past 21 years.
CMAA, National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA), Highest that can be achieved
AIC (Accredited Interscholastic Coach), National Federation of High Schools
CIC (Certified Interscholastic Coach), National Federation of High Schools
Heads Up Football, National Federation of High Schools

Current Member, Credentials Committee, National Interscholastic Athletics Administrators Association
(NIAAA), 2018 to 2023 Term

Class B Boys Basketball Coach of the Year, 2004
Class B Boys Basketball Coach of the Year (runner up) 2005
Class B Boys Track Coach of the Year, 2017

Class B Athletic Director of the Year, 2018

Montana LTI Coordinator & Instructor 2017 to Present (Not done classes as of yet)

Section 8 Representative from Montana

Montana All Classification Athletic Director of the Year 2021

Involved with 3 other A.D.s to host the State Class B-C track meet in May of 2022.  First time B-C together since the 1990's

Rebekah Rhoades - 2021 MASBO Outstanding Business Official

Rebekah Rhoades has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, earned from Montana State University. She has been a District Clerk/Business Manager for Lewistown Public Schools and a member of MASBO since 2012. And in those 10 years, she has been quite busy at her school, in her community and in MASBO!

In addition to holding regular meetings to keep administrative staff, secretaries and business office staff informed about the school’s budget and finances, she volunteers for various school activities, including reading Green Eggs ‘n Ham to the kindergarteners and coaching Junior High track.

In 2013 Rebekah completed the Leadership Central Montana training program and speaks regularly about school funding and elections to the local Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. She has worked with Snowy Mountain Development to explore ways to increase housing opportunities and childcare in her community. She is an active member of Rotary and Daughters of the American Revolution. In 2019 she was nominated by a member of her community and received the "Rising Central Montana Star" award.

After 4 years of attending just about every training offered by MASBO, MTSBA and other organizations, she started giving presentations at MASBO summer conferences, technology workshops, budget workshops and her Region’s spring workshops. Rebekah serves as mentor to new clerks and is a Montana Certified School Business Official. In 2019 she was elected to serve as Region 5 Director and was recently reelected to that position for the next 3 years. In 2021, she was awarded the Montana School Business Official of the Year Award.

In the letter of recommendation for the Montana School Business Official of the Year Award, signed by all seven of Lewistown’s board of trustees, they describe Rebekah as a bridge builder who humbly and quietly leads the district through financial difficulties and staffing concerns  and in doing so, always remembers the human element. The level of trust and respect is such that they say,  “When she talks, we all listen”.

Lara Belice - 2022 MACSS Rural Teacher of the Year

Lara’s success, as the sole licensed educator at Cooke City School—an isolated, K-8 rural one-room school—is the direct result of her non-traditional path to teaching. Lara has taught at Cooke City for the past 4 years. This year's student enrollment spanned 6 grade levels—Kindergarten through 7th; next year’s enrollment will span the full spectrum—Kindergarten through 8th.

Prior to becoming a teacher, Lara created an award-winning landscape design and landscape construction business, in San Diego, California. In 2005, she moved to the Big Hole Valley of Montana, fulfilling her childhood aspiration to reside in the mountains. In 2014, her love of adventure travel took her to a remote location of rural China, on the Tibetan Plateau, where she taught English as a volunteer, at a school for Tibetan children. This unique experience inspired Lara to enroll in the elementary education program at the University of Montana Western, at Dillon.

Lara obtained her K-8 teaching license, with a literacy K-12 endorsement, in January of 2018, and immediately accepted a mid-year position, teaching 7th and 8th grade science and social studies at Cayuse Prairie Elementary School in the Flathead Valley. Lara found the small-town mountain living she desired when she moved to Cooke City in August of 2018, to prepare for the 2018-2019 school year.

Since becoming the lead teacher at Cooke City School, Lara has implemented numerous place-based educational connections to the Greater Yellowstone Area, such as multi-night backpacking outings and nature hikes, ski touring, wildlife viewing with local field experts, as well as visits to historical sites and world-class museums, to engage her diverse group of students in learning that is personally relevant to their lives. Another large accomplishment came to fruition last summer. Lara achieved a closed-loop food system at the school, building a 26 foot diameter geodesic dome greenhouse to permit year-round gardening at an elevation of 7,600 feet. With the intent to nourish a future greenhouse, in August of 2019, she installed a composting system to withstand the extreme cold and wildlife that are an everyday occurrence at Cooke City. The students and community contribute compostable waste, which in turn is used to produce vegetables for the school and community, at a location where the nearest grocery store is a one-way drive of one and a half hours. Lara applies all of her life experiences, knowledge, and philosophy of teaching and learning to create and deliver effective and engaging, powerful learning experiences, for the direct benefit of the Cooke City students and community.

Al Simons - 2022 META Technologist of the Year

Al Simons is a retired U.S Air Force Chief Master Sergeant after serving for 26 years.  He has worked in Montana Schools as a Technology Coordinator for 22 years.  Al holds a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

In his free time, Al teaches Hunter and Bow Hunter Safety with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Al serves as the throwing coach for the Middle School Track and Field Team as well as the Discus Coach for High School, Collegiate and Olympic Athletes with Ironwood Throws Development Camp.  Al is a Multiple Gold Medal Winner at the Big Sky State Games.  He enjoys the outdoors, hunting, fishing, shooting sports, motorcycle racing, and coaching.

Wade Johnson - 2022 META Empowered Superintendent of the Year

Wade Johnson is the Superintendent of Cutbank Schools. He is also a member of the Cutbank Sports Complex board, Chamber of Commerce, Big Sky Special Needs Coop, and he is on the Executive Board for Golden Triangle Curriculum Coop.

Wade is proactive when it comes to upgrading or introducing new technology to the district. Especially since the pandemic, he has been a proponent of keeping the district open, and the students and staff safe. He understands that technology, both as a safety feature and online learning, is of the utmost importance. Wade was instrumental in the district technologist's efforts to get the four colony schools connected to the world via internet and inspire the teachers to integrate technology into their daily instruction.

Molly Zier-McLaughlin - 2022 MCASE Special Educator of the Year

Molly Zier-McLaughlin teaches special education at West Valley School in Kalispell.  Molly utilizes the resources of the regional cooperative and neighbor school districts to serve our West Valley students. She is active on the school Leadership Team and has promoted the Special Olympians and the Dream Adaptive Program. She has mentored teachers who are new to the area and Montana laws. Molly is a resource for others; having experience in grades kindergarten through high school. Her career has provided her with a perspective that not many have- preschool to graduation. She has also gained several honored mentors along the way. Molly's roots have been vital to her career growth. She is a member of a great team and she is a great team member. Molly's professionalism and ability to advocate positively for individuals with exceptionalities is the finest way to promote the profession. She is a model of having a "career versus a job" and of a profession that values wisdom along with a will to serve others. 

Mary Meehan - 2022 MCASE Special Education Director of the Year

Mary Meehan was raised in Great Falls, Montana. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Carroll College in Special Education and Psychology in 1984.  Her advanced degrees were granted in School Psychology from the University of Montana in 1990 and 2000.  Special Education supervisor endorsement coursework occurred at Montana State University Bozeman and Montana State University Billings.  Many hours and miles were spent traveling on beloved Montana roads as distance and on-line learning were primarily the stuff of futuristic dreams when pursuing her degrees and endorsements.

Her work related to supporting individuals with disabilities in order to develop and expand their opportunities to access their communities began in 1975.  Those experiences include classroom aide work, employment at Boulder River School and Hospital as a habilitation aide, a live in group home parent, a sheltered workshop service provider, a teacher, a school psychologist, a special education director, a preschool coordinator and special services director.  With the exception of ten years in Buckley, Washington, all of her professional work has occurred in Montana (Great Falls, Helena, Boulder, Missoula, Browning and Kalispell). 

She is the proud mother of two adult sons who have grown to be people worth knowing and who have brought women of substance and two young grandchildren into the family.  She and her life partner have called Kila, Montana home for the last 12 years.

Shelley Andres - 2022 MAEMSP National Distinguished Principal

Shelley started her teaching career at St. Labre, a small catholic Indian school on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation teaching 4th grade.  She taught for four years then took a few years off to be a stay-at-home mom to our four children.  She went back to work part-time at St. Labre as a reading coach and then a preschool teacher.  While at St. Labre she was the middle school cheer coach and one of the destination imagination coaches.  Additionally, Shelley enjoyed attending all high school basketball games and local pow wows. In 2009, Shelley and her family moved back to the Missoula area and she was the reading coordinator, dean of students and vice principal at K William Harvey Elementary in Ronan for two years.  Shelley received her masters in educational leadership from the U of M in 2012.   During this time she joined MAEMSP and enjoyed collaborating with colleagues from all over Montana.  From 2013 to 2018 Shelley was the Western Region Director for MAEMSP.  She was the principal at DeSmet for 5 years during this time she was awarded the 2012 partnership in curriculum and instruction award for then U of M.  And in 2013 she was the Educational Leadership Partnership from the U of M.  Additionally, Shelley was on the Management Council for the Missoula Area Education cooperative, on the board of directors for WMPLC from September of 2016 - June 30, 2021, and a board member for the Evaro Community Center from 2010 and currently is the vice chair.  Shelley's husband Tom is an ag teacher and an active member of the Missoula FFA alumni. In 2018 Shelley was elected to be the MAEMSP leadership team as the incoming vice president.  Shelley says that the office teams that she has been a part of are second to none.  Shelley is currently the SAM President and she just finished her 6th year as the Proud Principal of Bonner School! 

Jeff Uhren - 2022 MASSP Principal of the Year

 coming soon

Brad Moore - 2022 MASS Superintendent of the Year

Brad Moore is in his twenty-eighth year in education. He began his career as a high school agricultural education teacher and Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor in Ekalaka, Big Sandy, and Big Timber. He completed his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from MSU-Bozeman in 2005 and was offered his first superintendent position in Richey, MT. Mr. Moore has served as superintendent at Richey, Big Sandy, Sweet Grass County High School in Big Timber, and Stanford. He currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent at Havre Public Schools. Highly respected by his peers, this is the fourth time Mr. Moore has been nominated by his colleagues to represent them as their Regional Superintendent of the Year.

Since 2019, Mr. Moore has served as a coach/mentor for the School Administrators of Montana Leaders Professional Learning Program (SAM LPLP), a program that offers personalized professional learning to Montana education leaders that is student-focused, solution-based, and designed to be responsive to the challenges administrators face each day.

Mr. Moore is a proud 5th generation native Montanan and in his spare time, he and his family enjoy all the outdoor activities Montana has to offer.  

Carolyn Hall - 2022 MACSS County Superintendent of the Year

Having begun her career as an elementary teacher, then principal in New Mexico in 1975, Carolyn's family relocated to Montana in 1992 to the beautiful Flathead Valley.  Carolyn's career has been extremely rewarding since working with children and schools is her passion, and you couldn’t serve in a more beautiful place than Montana. Carolyn taught in the schools in Polson for 18 years and now has served as the Lake County Superintendent of Schools since 2015.  Carolyn serves as the Chair of the Montana Small Schools Alliance, which provides professional development, standards support, and guidance for Montana’s smallest public schools. 

Carolyn has said that she is humbled by this honor and acknowledges all the great teachers and administrators of Montana with whom she has the privilege of serving.  

Carol Phillips - 2022 Withrow CTO of the Year

Carol Phillips has been at the forefront of edtech leadership in the Elder Grove School District since she began her time there. Each year, she has presented different ways for the administration to continue moving forward to become a 1:1 district, which they finally achieved in April 2021. Phillips has since worked tirelessly to make sure the district remains at 1:1 through grant writing and donations, leading to an increase in student keyboarding skills, several computer science classes, robotics, coding, and art activities.

Carol was selected as the recipient of the prestigious META Technologist of the Year Award in March 2021.  As the recipient of the META Technologist of the Year Award for 2021, Carol went on to compete at the national level for the 2022 Withrow Outstanding CTO of the Year Award. 

Carol has been an active member of META for the past seven years, serving as President-Elect 2020-2022 and is currently beginning her service as the 2022-2024 META President. She has provided outstanding leadership and professional learning to Montana educators around education technology issues.  

Dr. Doug Reisig - 2021 SAM G.V. Erickson Award

Dr. Douglas Reisig is the Superintendent of Hellgate Elementary, a Department of Education recognized “Blue Ribbon” school district in Missoula, Montana which is Montana’s largest independent elementary school district. Dr. Reisig has been the Hellgate Elementary school district superintendent for the past twenty-two years. Altogether, Dr. Reisig has been involved in Montana Education for the past forty six (46) years with the last thirty (34) years spent in superintendent positions at St. Ignatius, Troy, Anaconda, and Hellgate Elementary. Dr. Reisig received his B.S. degree and M.Ed. degrees from the University of Montana and his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from MontanaStateUniversity.

Currently, Dr. Reisig serves as the Vice-President of the Montana High School Association Executive Board representing the Montana Office of Public Instruction as well as representing the School Administrators of Montana on the Executive Board of the Montana Unified School Trust (MUST Health Insurance Board).

In 2010 and in 2021, Dr. Reisig was awarded the G.V. Erickson Award for “notable service and dedication to education”. The G.V. Erickson Award is the highest award the School Administrators of Montana organization can give to a Montana school administrator.