Havre Public Schools employees honored during annual celebration
By Ross Markman
Mary Wagner has always wanted to travel to New York City, but not necessarily to climb the thousands of stairs at the Empire State Building or shop on Fifth Avenue or even peer out from the crown of the Statue of Liberty.
No, Wagner has yearned to visit the city that never sleeps to attend a teaching seminar. And now she has the chance.
Monday night, Wagner was named Havre Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Her prize is a trip to the teachers conference of her choice. The seminar Wagner hopes to attend focuses on how to incorporate humor into everyday life and her teaching by putting things in perspective, she said.
For the last 23 years at Havre High School, Wagner has taught math courses running the gamut of the subject, from algebra to trigonometry to calculus.
"It's kind of neat. I've been working with a lot of these people for 23 years. I have so much respect for them," she said today.
"I was absolutely surprised. I figure if you can get an award like this, you get an advance notice," Wagner added. "I was completely caught off guard. I had absolutely no idea I would win."
Wagner was one of five teachers nominated for this year's award, three of whom accepted the nomination, Havre Public Schools Superintendent Kirk Miller said. The other nominees were science teacher Brett Hamilton and business instructor Karen Murri, both of Havre High School.
"I would say Mary was very surprised. She was shocked almost," Miller said. "The thing I recognize most is how much she cares about her students. She always goes above and beyond to provide opportunities for her students."
Following a nomination by their peers, teachers were required to submit an application, which was then considered by a committee consisting of an administrator and teacher from each of the district's other schools.
Also honored Monday night was Sunnyside Intermediate School head custodian Bob Newbauer, who was named Classified Employee of the Year. The 20-year district employee was selected from 20 nominated from five district classifications: custodial maintenance, clerical, teacher assistant and tutor/nurse, transportation, and food service.
"I wasn't expecting it. It was kind of exciting, I guess," Newbauer said today. "I felt honored. But I'm kind of bashful when it comes to things like that."
In his first year at Sunnyside, Newbauer also spent four years at the high school, seven years at the former Devlin School and eight years at Highland Park Early Primary School all as custodian.
"I knew my name would be coming up soon, but I didn't know for sure," he said.
Newbauer received a plaque from the district and a $300 gift certificate from the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, good at a variety of Havre businesses.
"He's a very helpful person on all ends of the business. I think the staff would tell you that he's always there putting things in order," Miller said. "He's fun to be around, too. He has a great attitude with who he's working with."
Top vote-getters from the other four classified departments were also honored Monday night, Miller said. The clerical winner was 16-year district employee Dona Keeler, a secretary to the athletic director at Havre High School. Kayette Childree, a special education assistant at Havre Middle School, was recognized in the teaching assistant and tutor/nurse category. Doug Martin was honored as the winner in the transportation department and Cheri Turner, a cashier in the Havre Middle School cafeteria, won the food services award.
The 10th annual employee recognition and pride celebration drew more than 100 people to the high school cafeteria, Miller said. Others were recognized for five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 35 years of service to the district.