The Helena Education Foundation has been honoring its 2013 Distinguished Educators and Distinguished Students this week, including a teacher at Hawthorne Elementary who has dedicated the last 19 years of her life to educating young children.
Just before 1 p.m. Thursday, Cheyenne Steffens, a 2013 Distinguished Achiever and a senior at Capital High returned to Hawthorne and surprised her second grade teacher, Anne Bartsch.
“Will you be my Distinguished Educator?” Cheyenne asked Bartsch, entering her former teacher’s classroom and presenting her with a rose.
With tears in her eyes, Bartsch accepted the rose and embraced Steffens.
“Thank you, that means so much to me,” Bartsch said. “You have no idea how much that means to me.”
“Why are you guys crying,” a student asked, causing the adults in the classroom to chuckle.
“You guys are really lucky,” Lisa Cordingley, executive director of the Helena Education Foundation, told the students, explaining how great a teacher Bartsch is.
Each year, the Helena Education Foundation recognizes a range of Helena-area students for their academic accomplishments and community involvement. Students then name an educator who has had the most positive impact on their lives, who is in turn recognized by the foundation.
The Distinguished Educators and Students will be honored at the Helena Educational Foundation’s “Celebration of Excellence” in May, which Cordingley says is the organization’s most important program of the year.
“You live it. It consumes you,” Bartsch said of being a teacher. “It’s everything because you have so many little kids … that look up to you.”