Possibly nothing is more rewarding for a teacher than a student paying tribute to his or her efforts.
The Helena Education Foundation helps students make such recognitions with its Celebration of Excellence award.
On the basis of exceptional academics and other achievements, HEF selects area high school seniors who are then asked to pick an educator who most affected their lives. The students and their selected teachers are honored at a dinner banquet in May.
Central Elementary teacher Deb Johnson asked for a tissue as she was told about the honor Monday afternoon.
“It means a lot,” she told her students, wiping a tear from her eye.
Helena Education Foundation Executive Director Lisa Cordingley said delivering the nominations is the best part about her job.
“I get to see students reward teachers in a way that may be the most significant event in their professional life,” she said. “I get to be the messenger.”
Three educators were chosen at C.R. Anderson Middle School, and that didn’t come as a surprise to Principal Bruce Campbell.
“I have an excellent staff, and I know that they do great work,” he said. “Those three represent my great staff that makes a difference with kids.”
Math teacher Bob Tipton was one of the three at C.R. Anderson (see the full list on page 7A). He agrees with Campbell.
“I feel very honored, but I also know all of the educators are certainly just as worthy as I am,” he said.
Tipton was nominated by Shea Fanning, a senior at Capital High School.
“My first memory was she came in every day with this big smile on her face,” Tipton said. “She always brought a positive attitude and was glad to be here. She had a great sense of humor that she tried to hide a little.”
Tana Cooper teaches seventh grade English at C.R. Anderson and was nominated by Courtney Hauck.
Hauck said Cooper instilled a love for English that has carried throughout her school career.
“I’ve been doing honors and AP English and she started me out in that direction,” Hauck said. “I really enjoyed her class, and I wanted to keep going after that.”
Hauck said she remembers Cooper as a teacher who was happy to be in front of the class and with students.
“She’s a good teacher and we had a ton of fun, too,” she said.
Cooper is a 40-year veteran teacher, and half of that has been at C.R. Anderson. This is the third time a student has nominated her for the award. She said she’s known Hauck her entire life.
“She is like an all-American girl with a great personality, work ethic, and she’s thoughtful and kind,” Cooper said. “It makes you feel good to be around her. She’s one of those kids you could never find something negative to say about.”
Tipton said he appreciates what Helena Education Foundation does for the community and how it affects students and teachers.
“HEF goes above and beyond to help education, which is always appreciated by the students and teachers,” he said. “It’s a neat thing after many years to take a student and their educator and get to go back and share the good times and good things that went on. It gives educators a chance to understand why we do what we do — and that’s those kids.”
Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or email@example.com