Sep 20, 2011 12:17 PM by KXLH

Capital High School teacher Pederson named 2012 MT Teacher of the Year

Tom Pederson of Capital High School in Helena has been named as the 2012 Montana Teacher of the Year.

The honor is presented annually by the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation.

Pederson has spent the last 35 years educating Helena teens, and he praised the entire school upon learning of the award.

Pederson noted, "This award gives Capital High its due. This school is a great place. Everyone from administrators to support staff have fostered my growth as a teacher and allowed us all to be the best teachers we can be. This is Capital High School's award."

Pedersen will be honored during the annual teachers' conference next month in Missoula.

Pederson was selected by a committee composed of 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year Paul Andersen, other educators, a parent, a high school student, and representatives from the Montana Board of Public Education and Office of Public Instruction.

Read more about Pederson on the MEA-MFT website, including this overview:

Tom Pedersen didn't start out to be a teacher. He planned to become a doctor. But when a serious illness interrupted his medical studies, he got a teaching degree and took a temporary job teaching science at Capital High School in Helena to pay his medical school loans.

He had no intention of staying -- he planned to return to medical school as soon as possible. But "life is what happens when you are busy making other plans," Pedersen said, quoting John Lennon.

So Pedersen gave up the position saved for him in medical school and stayed at Capital High, devoting the next 35 years to his students and fellow teachers. "I never looked back," he said.

Pedersen currently teaches Honors Biology II (a co-credit anatomy and physiology class through the University of Montana) and Science Seminar. He greets his students every day with humor, enthusiasm, and high expectations. He said he aims to motivate students to become "life-long learners, passionate about this planet, and to stay curious, motivated, and filled with a sense of wonder."


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