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Teacher Selected for Highest Honor in the Treasure State

Helena Middle School teacher Kelly Elder was selected for the highest honor for teachers in Montana. (MEA-MFT)
Helena Middle School teacher Kelly Elder was selected for the highest honor for teachers in Montana. (MEA-MFT)
October 12, 2016

HELENA, Mont. - Kelly Elder, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at C.R. Anderson Middle School in Helena, has been selected as the 2017 Montana Teacher of the Year, the highest honor for teachers in the Treasure State.

Elder, who has been teaching in Montana for two decades, said he gets to use current events to connect with kids and uses hands-on research projects to teach his students about the world. He said he works hard to connect with every student in the classroom and that teachers can rely on each other to make all the students at school feel welcome.

"I would say your most successful schools in Montana or anywhere in the world are going to be those where every student that comes in the doors connects with someone, some adult within that building and feels a desire to belong, to learn, to grow and to be a better person," he said.

Elder, along with two other finalists, will be honored at the annual MEA-MFT Educators' Conference on Oct. 20 in Helena. The state's Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation.

Elder said he owes a lot to his colleagues because teaching is a collaborative effort. He said the profession is extremely demanding, leading to burnout for some new teachers, but added that those who have been in the profession for a long time can lend support to their new colleagues.

"We as a profession need to do more to make sure we're sharing what we know," he said, "and helping them to connect with students, helping them get on their feet, helping shoulder some of the burden of coaching and lesson-planning and all the extracurricular things that can really bog you down when you're learning to teach."

Elder also leads rides for the Dynamos Mountain Biking Club, a youth mountain biking program for students from around Helena, and is a student council adviser.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT