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Sunburst woman earns 'Montana History Teacher of the Year' award

Hali Richmond
Posted at 8:10 AM, Jun 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-09 10:10:39-04

Hali Richmond, who teaches third and fourth grade in her hometown of Sunburst about 30 miles north of Shelby, has been honored as the Centennial Bell Montana History Teacher of the Year.

The Montana Historical Society said in a news release that Richmond uses the MTHS fourth-grade curriculum to teach Montana history as well as her own lesson plans.

In his nomination letter for Richmond, Sunburst School Elementary Principal Dan Nau said Richmond epitomizes what every person desires in a great teacher.

"She is passionate, energetic, positive, organized and has high expectations for her students,” Nau wrote. “Mrs. Richmond is an excellent educator, and we are extremely happy to have her as an employee at Sunburst Schools.”

Richmond received her education degree from the University of Montana and is working on her master’s degree there. Her first teaching positions were in one-room schoolhouses in Sunset School near Missoula and Galata School near Shelby, teaching every subject and grade level, including history.

In 2022, Richmond became part of the Montana Historical Society’s Teacher Leader Program, which enlists educators to help improve social studies education across the state.

Hali Richmond

Richmond uses the MTHS fourth-grade curriculum to teach Montana history as well as her own lesson plans. In his nomination letter for Richmond, Sunburst School Elementary Principal Dan Nau said Richmond epitomizes what every person desires in a great teacher.

Fourth-grade student Bree Chilton nominated Richmond for sharing information about the different tribal nations and reservations in Montana, and the way she treats her students.

“I am Chippewa, and she let me teach some Chippewa words,” Chilton wrote. “Mrs. Richmond is a most worthy history teacher of the year because I care about her, and she cares about her students.”

Richmond will receive $4,500 from event sponsors Montana Television Network, the Sons & Daughters of Montana Pioneers (SDMP), and the History of Montana Foundation. The money may be used for classroom materials, guest speakers, field trips, and anything that enhances student learning.

For writing the winning nomination letter, Chilton will receive 100 gold Sacagawea dollars from Judge Judy Wohlfrom of California. Each student from Sunburst who attends the award ceremony will receive a gold Sacagawea dollar from Mike Collins, President of SDMP, and his wife. Other sponsors for this project are the Montana Historical Society and the 1889 Coffeehouse in Helena.

The History Teacher of the Year is part of the 34th Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award. The public is invited to attend the November 8, 2023, ceremony on Statehood Day, at 10 a.m. at the State Capitol in Helena. Richmond and her students will ring the Centennial Bell at 10:29 a.m., the exact minute Montana became the 41st state in 1889.