GREAT FALLS — Eric Chaon has been a history teacher at Great Falls High School for nearly a decade. Believe it or not, he said becoming Montana History Teacher of the Year is not something he's ever thought about but he certainly appreciates the honor.
When Chaon isn't in the classroom serving up history lessons, you might find him in the gymnasium serving up basketball lessons as a coach.
He said he developed his passion for teaching in college.
"I was taking some social studies and history classes and they started to resonate with me. I decided I wanted to give back in the classroom and that was the content area that was going to work for me,” said Chaon.
Part of the process of becoming history teacher of the year is having a letter of support written by a colleague and a student.
Cale Gundlach, a senior at GFHS, wrote in his letter: “Mr. Chaon is deserving of this prestigious award because of the connection he makes with his students, the engaging way in which he teaches and his love for bettering the growth of his students.”
"To sit down and read a letter of support from a student was good. It's good feedback,” said Chaon.
Jerry Hopkins, school librarian, wrote the colleague letter of support for Chaon. When asked why, he also referenced Chaon's teaching style and his connections with students.
"It's very gratifying to see him receive this honor because of all the work he puts in,” Hopkins said. "We're a pretty close-knit faculty, but to be able to call not only a colleague but a friend 'Montana Teacher of the Year' is pretty special."
In his letter, Hopkins said, “I was able to fully see the dedication Eric brings to not only his classroom but to the relationships he builds with his students. Mr. Chaon’s classroom persona is loud, animated and humorous. This combination of passion for education makes his students want to attend his class and look forward to what each lesson will bring.”
Chaon said, "I've just tried to do a good job each day, do my job well, work hard and help motivate and engage students and get them to be, hopefully, good students down the road."
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