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Librarian Marla Unruh, center, is surprised by Helena Education Foundation executive director Lisa Cordingley, left,

Librarian Marla Unruh, center, is surprised by Helena Education Foundation Executive Director Lisa Cordingley, left, as one of this year's "Great Teachers" Wednesday afternoon at Broadwater Elementary School.

Broadwater Elementary School librarian Marla Unruh will turn 80 soon, but her vitality for education hasn't ceased a bit.

She is among seven educators who were recently surprised by the Helena Education Foundation as this year's "Great Teachers" and will be honored at the annual Great Conversations event scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the Great Northern Conference Center.

"Marla is a picture perfect model of a lifelong learner," said Lisa Cordingley, executive director of the Helena Education Foundation. "She has a way of engaging all ages in the learning process."

Along with her typical duties, Unruh has gone on to teach herself robotics in order to secure a makerspace grant for the children and also teaches students knitting. 

"She just wants to be with the kids," Broadwater Principal Sue Sweeney said. "She wants to do anything to engage with the kids."

HEF also surprised Principal Brian Cummings at Jim Darcy; math teacher Dennis Peterson at Capital High School; English teacher Greg Wald at Project for Alternative Learning; resource teacher Jake West at C.R. Anderson Middle School; science teacher Christine Thennis at Helena High School; and Erin Finstad at Bryant School. 

Great Conversations is an annual fundraiser for the HEF where small groups of people discuss wide-ranging topics over dinner. For more information about Great Conversations, or to make reservations, visit or call 443-2545.

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Photo editor at The Independent Record

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