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Lovell Chronicle
Lovell , Wyoming
April 15, 2010     Lovell Chronicle
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April 15, 2010

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6 I The Lovell Chronicle I April 15, 2010 www.LovellChronicle.com hamb r banquet hon0rees iiii iii= i First-grade teacher also loves learning BY BRAD DEVEREAUX After teaching first grade for 13 years, the Big Horn County School Dis- trict No. 1 Outstanding Ed- ucator of the Year has no desire to stop. While teach- ing young students can be a challenge, she said the rewards far outweigh the challenges, and she learns a lot from the students. The Lovell Area Cham- ber of Commerce honored Chris Townsend Friday night as the outstanding educator for District One. Townsend is married to Wes Townsend and they have two children, Landon and Teagan, who both at- tend Rocky Mountain Ele- mentary School. After earning a degree in human services from Eastern Montana College, Townsend said she decid- ed she wanted to teach and began studying at North- west College, finishing with an education degree from Montana State University- Billings. She began student teaching fifth-graders and took a job at Rocky Moun- tain Elementary School teaching first grade the next year. "Once I got into first grade, I was hooked," she said. "It's so rewarding, the growth you see." First-graders come with limited skills using the al- phabet and making sounds, and they leave reading chapter books, Townsend said. The alphabet is like a code, Townsend said, and once they begin to break the code, they want more than picture books, she said. "Now the pictures are in their head and they find out how rewarding reading Chris Townsend can be," she said. BHCSD1 had received Reading First grant funding in past years, but funding is being discon- tinued this year, she said. However, teachers gained knowledge in teaching strategies and the district received a lot of helpful ma- terials that will continue to help them teach reading ef- fectively in the future. Townsend said she also likes to teach first grade because the students are young enough that they need some emotional sup- port, she said, and their teacher is still a big part of their life. "If teacher says it, it must be true," Townsend smiled. "It's really cute." While trying to ignite a spark of a love for learn- ing, Townsend said she also works with some apprehen- sive students to help them like coming to school. "I let them know they're loved and welcomed and we're going to learn and have fun," Townsend said. Townsend's students are currently learning about the life dyeles of a butterfly, bigger words including con- tractions and double-digit addition. She said double- digit addition makes the students feel like they're doing more advanced math, and are beginning to under- stand the mechanics of ad- dition. Townsend was unable to attend the banquet Fri- day because of previous plans. RMES principal Kar- ma Sanders, who nominat- ed Townsend for the award, said she did so because Townsend fit all the criteria the state asks for and does a great job at RMES. "She's a good teach- er. She's respected by par- ents, students and her col- leagues and she is involved in the community," Sanders said. "She has a passion for what she does and she cares about kids." Each building in the district nominated an edu- cator and the final selection was made by the district administration team, Sand- ers said. Townsend said she was honored to receive the award. "It is an honor to be rec- ognized for something you love to do, something that's fun to do," she said. "I ap- preciate being able to work in the district. This area has some of the best kids who are supported by the best families." "Year after year I al- ways hope students learn as much as I do," she said. "Through each little idio- syncrasy you can learn a lot about kids. It's very re- warding. "It's hard to put into words. It's more of a feeling than something I can sum- marize." Wardell has special tie to special education BY BRAD DEVEREAUX When Big Horn County School District No. 2's out- standing educator began teaching, it was after she had learned about special education while helping her son navigate the steps in- volved in receiving special ed from an early age. Lovell High School spe- cial education teacher Kar- en Wardell was honored at the Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet Fri- day at the Lovell Commu- nity Center. Wardell said soon after her youngest son, Eric, was born with an undi- agnosed condition 25 years ago, she was introduced to the world of special educa- tion. "I started working with the people at CRC and I started thinking how appre- ciative I was for the things they were able to do to help my son," she said. When her three children were spend- ing their days in school, Wardell began working to- ward a teaching degree. After attending classes at a few different schools, Wardell graduaed with a bachelor's degree in el- ementary education and K-12 special education. She taught middle school for a year before taking an open- ing for a special education teacher. Later, she obtained a master's degree in educa- tion and was certified to teach visually impaired stu- dents. She has been teach- ing at the district for 14 years. As a special education teacher, Wardell said she has to work with all differ- ent subjects and also help kids deal with a variety of disabilities. She said she of- ten meets with teachers for tutoring sessions for some courses, like algebra II or chemistry. Another important role of the special ed department in high school is to help stu- dents prepare for what is coming after graduation, Wardell said, whether a Karen Wardell student plans to go to col- lege and study to be a nurse or would like to find a local job following high school. She holds monthly meetings to determine and modify each student's In- dividual Education Plan (IEP) with the student and his or her parents as well as teachers, administrators and outside agencies. Out- side agencies could include a disability program coordi- nator from Northwest Col- lege, a local employer or someone from the depart- ment of workforce services. The DWS can help students take advantage of state- funded programs like the vocational rehab program and the youth employment program, and the DWS also has funds available for on- the-job training and other programs. IEP meetings also fa- cilitate pairing students with local employers to gain some on-the-job experience and Wardell also sets up job shadowing opportuni- ties for students. The cur- rent educational model in Wyoming promotes giving students with disabilities the tools they need to sup- port themselves after high school better than in the past, Wardell said. The model is state-man- dated, she said, but DWS employees who attend IEP meetings at districts around the state have comment- ed to Wardell that Lovell's program sets a strong ex- ample. Wardell said there are too many things that she enjoys about helping stu- dents to put into words, but there are a few reasons why she has stuck with special ed over the years. "I really enjoy the one- on-one opportunities you get to be with the kids," she said. "It's a luxury general education teachers don't get to have." She said special ed is nice because students come in as freshmen and they usually stay in her class for four years. 'Tou build relation- ships and you get to know them better as learners, which is an advantage," she said. 'You can follow their growth." She said she was "deep- ly touched" to be selected for the award and thanked administrators, teachers, para-educators, parents and her family for support- ing her. She acknowledged her nominator and co-work- er Nicole Minchow Blaine, who Wardell said has men- tored her just as much as Wardell has mentored Blaine and the two make a good team. "I once read that the burn-out rate for special education teachers is about seven years. I'm at 14 and holding and I plan on stay- ing as long as they'll keep me," she told the crowd at Friday's banquet. "My son might have led me to this profession, but that is not why I stay. I stay because of the kids. They are the reason I come to work each day." Wardell was raised in Cowley and graduated from Cowley High School. She and her husband, Jeff, have spent most of their mar- riage in Lovell, along with a few years in California, she said. The couple has three adult children, Eric, Chel- sea and Chris. DAVID PECK Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Ray Peterson (left) and District Two Outstanding Educator Karen Wardell (right) pose with Wyoming State Auditor Rita Meyer following Friday's community banquet. his 'field of dreams' BY DAVID PECK Ray Peterson could be honored for many contri- butions to the community: town councilman, county commissioner, Wyoming Rural Development Coun- cil, North Big Horn Hospi- tal Foundation board, Big Horn County CARES board, LDS bishop, state senator and owner and operator of the Office Shop, among oth- ers. But on Friday night, Peterson was honored as the Outstanding Citizen of north Big Horn County by the Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce for his dedica- tion to the youth of the com- munity. He was honored for being the area's Mr. Base- ball. Peterson was nominat- ed for the award by Chris Pearson, who had three boys go through the Lovell baseball program years ago. Pearson said she appreci- ates the time Peterson has spent on the new Ameri- can Legion field in Cowley, as well as the time organiz- ing and coaching Babe Ruth and Legion baseball. "After reading Ray Pe- terson's bio, it would be feasible to nominate him as Citizen of the Year for many different years, and for many different reasons," Pearson wrote. "I chose this year because of a baseball field you see when driving north through Cowley. This field is there because of Ray Peterson and many, many hours of work to make it happen. "I know that there were many people involved, but I also know that none of it would have been accom- plished had Ray not had this dream and made it happen. There were so many times place to play. Ray has tak- en away many of these un- knowns, and besides creat- ing this field for the teams, he also coaches both a Babe Ruth team and the Legion team." Pearson urged the com- munity to join together to "it is once again a given that if there ,are boys wanting to play baseball, the opportunity is there for them e, Chris Pearn you could drive past, and he would be the only one work- ing." Pearson praised Pe- terson for reviving the se- nior baseball leagues in the area. "As beautiful as this field is going to be, it is even more important what Ray has done for the base- ball program here in north- ern Big Horn County," she wrote. "He has brought it back to life for the Babe Ruth and Legion aged young men in our area. It is once again a given that if there are boys wanting to play baseball, the opportu- nity is there for them. "I had three boys go through the Lovell base- ball program, and with the second and third sons it was always an unknown as to whether or not there would be a team, a coach, scheduled games and a support senior league base- ball in the area. "I think of the famous line from the movie "Field of Dreams" where it was said, 'If you build it, they will come.' Ray has built it, and it is up to us as a community to come," she wrote. "To come and cheer on the teams, to come and offer our help if it is need- ed, and just to come and be a part of Ray Peterson's dream." In accepting the award, Peterson said it is em- blematic of volunteerism throughout the communi- ty. He noted the tremen- dous effort that went into creating the Pryor Moun- tain Wild Mustang Center as one example. Peterson said north Big Horn County is a com- munity of volunteers and said many could be simi- larly honored.