TOP TEACHER — From the left, School Board Chairperson Jan Carter along with last year’s Teacher of the Year, Carol Mielke, present Karen Lee, center, with her special plaque for being named the Outstanding Teacher of the Year. The ceremonies took place in the newly remodeled auditorium at CHS on Wednesday. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler
By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Wednesday afternoon the Conrad school district held their annual staff and employee recognition program.
This year marked the 14th anniversary of the event and while normally held in the multi-purpose room at Meadowlark School, the event was scheduled into the new auditorium at Conrad High School.
The employee recognition program was just the second event to be put on in a facility that in a word is, incredible.
Conrad School Board Chairman Jan Carter opened the ceremony with a short welcome and said to the audience, “All of you should give yourself a pat on the back for all you do.”
She also noted that, “Because of you and people like you, my son has a business in Conrad, It’s wonderful!”
With that, the assembly was turned over to Lynn Utterback and Greg Jensen who awarded service pins.
Five year pins went to Doris Clifton, Ruth Fladstol, Kendall Griggs and Tammy Totdahl.
A 10-year pin went to Erin Brenteson. Gavin Grammar who was not present at last year’s ceremony also received his 10-year pin. Those getting 15-year pins included Eric Gustafson, Carol Mielke and Jennifer Schlepp.
Janie McFarland, Joe Moerkerke and Don Yeager received 20-year service pins, Kim Hofstad was given her 25-year pin and
Afton Lamoeaux, the district business manager, received a 30-year pin.
Barb Brownell, Leona Linn and Roxy Zomer all were given their 35-year pins.
School principals Craig Barringer and Ken Larson recognized the new employees with Larson saying, “We had a grand slam with our new staff this year, and we appreciate you all.”
Cheryl Schlepp who was Teacher of the Year in 1998-99 and Montana’s Teacher of the Year was given a plaque for her retirement at the end of the school year.
Also retiring and recognized were music instructor Larry Thorsen and Carol Mielke who was last year’s district Teacher of the Year.
Totdahl was then named the Outstanding Classified Employee of the Year and presented her award by Carter. Ed Corder, last year’s recipient was not present to help hand out her award.
Totdahl has been in the school system for five years and is the building secretary at Meadowlark School.
She joins past winners Betty McBratney, L. Linn, Barb Bruner, Donna Schlepp, A. Lamoreaux, Jeff Sullivan, Molly Jimmerson, Linda Carlson, Tammy Jones, Sandy Shirley, Becky Meier, R. Zomer, Brenda Slezak and Corder.
Principal Jensen then took over to present the Teacher of the Year award which went to Karen Lee who is the Gifted/Talented instructor and also handles performing arts and choir.
In introducing her, Jensen made a few comments from her nomination form saying, “This teacher is up to date on the latest strategies on research based education….always presents a positive attitude toward co-workers and students….and is an outstanding advocate for students and a vital source for professional development.”
He went on to say, “Karen is nominated with the utmost respect for her teaching ability, community involvement and leadership qualities.”
Lee joins other Teachers of the Year that include Bill Jimmerson, Chuck Powers, C. Schlepp, Linda Garnett, Carol Gunderson, Tara Thielman, Monica Tomayer, Jim Carroll, Deb Perry, Beth Ann Bolmeier, Carol Brownell, J. McFarland and C. Mielke.
Lee’s name will now be forwarded onto the State Teacher of the Year Program to which Superintendent of Schools Utterback commented, “We wish her the best of luck in that process of recognition.