Jessica Johnson of Ronan, an 8th-grade teacher, accepted the annual Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award on Monday at the state Capitol.
Her students struck the centennial bell for 60 seconds at 10:40 a.m, the exact minute that Montana became the 41st state 127 years ago.
Johnson said that she’s excited to have won the award and to get to visit Helena to accept it.
“Many of these students I’ve had since they were seventh-grade, three or more years, some less, some more, but it was very great to bring them all together and come with me today and have just a fun day at the Capitol and in Helena,” said Johnson.
The ceremony is traditionally held on November 8, the day Montana became a state, but was moved up one day due to the election.
Johnson received a $2,500 plaque from MTN, the Montana History Foundation, and the Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers.
In one of the letters nominating Johnson, student Haley McDaniel wrote, “Before we went to Helena we studied the branches of government and our rights as citizens. We wrote bills and tried to pass them in class. Debating everyone’s bills was really fun and interesting. While at the Capitol it was cool to see where they make laws for Montana.”
“I feel our students are fortunate to have Jessica as their teacher. Her energy and knowledge of the subject allows her to have a classroom that is full of life. Having been in education for 28 years, I feel I have a good understanding of what it takes to be a great teacher and Jessica has it," wrote Ronan Middle School principal Mark Johnson.
Sunny Day Real Bird, Indian education Director for Ronan School District, wrote: “Jessica supplements her lessons with hands-on activities, demonstrations, and games to inspire, intrigue and engage her students. Her content knowledge is also significant allowing her to have deep conversations with her students about questions that they might have.”