Francy McAllister, a social studies and English teacher at Kalispell Junior High School, thought she was going to an assembly Tuesday afternoon to help monitor kids. Instead, she left with business cards, a crystal apple trophy, two plaques, a banner, a tote, a pen, a lanyard and a check for $10,000.
The money and prizes were rewards for a unique distinction: McAllister was named the Montana Teacher of the Year. The cash award was donated to the school in McAllister’s name. Principal Barry Grace said McAllister would decide how the money should be spent.
In May, McAllister was nominated as the local “Teacher of the Year” through community submissions at the Kalispell Wal-Mart and received a $1,000 donation for the school. Just the day before she received the state award, McAllister said she used the $1,000 to order tack strips to hang pictures and posters in the school’s hallways.
As a local winner, McAllister had the option of filling out an application¬ – a resume, two letters of recommendation and four essays ¬– to be considered for the state award. State winners were chosen by representatives from Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional education association that partners with Wal-Mart for this program. McAllister also gets a one-year membership to PDK.
The pressure is on now for McAllister, who will automatically be considered for the national Teacher of the Year award announced in November. “Now we’re pushing for her to go national. She’ll be in trouble if she doesn’t come through there,” Grace joked.
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