(HELENA) The Montana Professional Teaching Foundation named Kelly Elder the state’s top educator. He is a social studies teacher at C.R. Anderson Middle School.
Elder was one of three finalists for 2017 “Teacher of the Year.” The other two were a family and consumer science teacher from Forsyth and a Kindergarten and First Grade teacher from Bozeman.
Kelly Elder just got back from a two-day camping trip with his students and lost his voice, but that didn’t stop him from going back into the classroom Wednesday morning to teach social studies to his sixth graders.
“We just got back we spent the last 2 days in the woods, thanks to YMCA and the alliance club. and I lost my voice yesterday afternoon,” said Elder.
For the first decade of his career, Elder taught economics, psychology, and government in high school before he moved to teaching middle school.
7th graders who took his class last year said he doesn’t only teach academics, he teaches life lessons as well.
“Mr. Elder, he really was just, he was an amazing teacher,” said Molly McGree, a former student.
Another former student Scott Wiles said Mr. Elder helped him feel comfortable learning the ropes in Middle School.
“When I started sixth grade, I felt like I just fit in, after transitioning from Elementary all the way over to the middle school,” said Wiles.
Many other former students said they also connected with Elder on a personal level.
“I love traveling, so I really like how I could actually use this stuff in the real world, as I get older,” said Jasmine Hinshaw.
“He likes a bunch of sports, like soccer, and all that stuff, which was a lot easier for me to get closer to him because I love sports too,” said Cale Hines.
Elder’s experience and knowledge are already helping him make connections with this year’s sixth-grade class, just weeks after the school year began.
“I think we have an obligation as educators to make sure we’re preparing young people for future jobs, for future lives, and the truthful matter is, most jobs today are asking to do projects, asked to collaborate and to do that, you need to do that in schools as well,” said Elder.
Reporter: Frances Lin