VFW honors Plains teacher
March 2, 2023
A Plains teacher was honored by VFW Post 3596 recently at a school assembly, but she almost missed her own award ceremony.
Mathematics teacher Lisa Brown wasn't feeling good that Thursday and planned to leave early, and students had only a half a day, but high school Principal Ryon Noland and Jesse Jermyn, who heads the school maintenance program, delayed her without letting on that there was a surprise in store for her. The ploy worked - she was surprised.
The Plains VFW post honored Brown with two 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year awards, one from the local post and one from VFW District 1 in Kalispell. They are part of the "Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award Contest." Post Commander Ron Kilbury presented Brown with the local award, a mounted wooden apple, and District Commander Heather Allen presented the district award, a custom glass apple.
"Being honored by the VFW is very humbling," said Brown, a teacher at Plains for 14 years. "They have sacrificed so much so that we can pursue our dreams," she added about the veterans organization. "It is truly an honor to receive this award. I was extremely honored and humbled," she said.
Brown was one of four teachers at the district level to be nominated. Samantha Bebb, a retired soldier and a substitute teacher at Plains, nominated Brown for the award. Allen said there were four teachers at the district level nominated. Brown's name was forwarded on to the state level, but she didn't win there. District 1 covers 15 VFW posts in Northwest Montana from Darby to Bigfork to Eureka and everything west to the Idaho border, said Allen.
The VFW created the award in 1999. "The award recognizes our nation's top teachers for their exceptional commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students by promoting civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism in the classroom," said Allen, who took over as district commander last June and has been the quartermaster at Post 3596 since 2019. Brown also received $100 from the VFW.
Brown is the first local Teacher of the Year winner since 2019 when music teacher Brittany Nichols, who now teaches at Thompson Falls, received the award from the post for both kindergarten through fifth grade and sixth to eighth grade. In 2019, George Sherwood received the award on the high school level.
"I like the connection with students, the community, and other teachers. Since I was 9 years old, I had always wanted to be a teacher because I had some great ones that influenced my life," said Brown. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (pre kindergarten to eighth grade) in 2008, followed by master's degree in Mathematics Education (fifth to ninth grade) in 2016 and a master's degree (fifth to 12th grade) in Mathematics Education in 2019. All of her degrees are from Western Governors University and she has taught only at Plains, in the high school, middle school, and sixth grade. She teaches algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus, along with some Running Start Math classes at Flathead Community College.
Brown is one of more than 30 teachers at Plains School and was also praised by Noland for her excellent work there. "She is constantly striving to engage students across all levels of learning mathematics. She has a strong work ethic that comes through in her instruction," said Noland, who added that Brown also coaches golf for the high school teams and is constantly in attendance for many extracurricular activities. "Mrs. Brown is also a wonderful contributor to the community and students through teaching hunters education and Little Guy Wrestling. A few years ago, she received an award for her work as a hunter education instructor.
"I have gotten to know her quite well as she is usually the first teacher to get to work in the morning, which gives us more time to just shoot the breeze a bit before the day gets rolling. Mrs. Brown is deserving of this award and I am happy that she was recognized," added Noland.