2009 Karen Cox awardees

Billings teacher Karen Cox, one of Montana’s great educators, lost her life doing what she loved: working to improve public education. The Montana Professional Teaching Foundation created the Karen Cox Memorial Grant Awards in her honor.


The grant program is not intended to replace school funding. Rather, it is meant to assist educators who selflessly reach into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies.


Recipients of the 2009 Karen Cox awards are listed below:

Patty Muir, Laurel Middle School, Laurel. Muir will use her $500 grant to equip each grade level (5-8) with a Flip camcorder in order to record projects, plays, presentations, and more to share with parents and community.


“So often parents and community only see the finished project such as the final diorama, a poster, an animal habitat, but are unable to see the process that evolved to get to the end,” Muir says.


“The process is sometimes more important than the end result, as it may involve group work, research, interviews, and other higher level thinking skills.” The easy-to-use $130 camcorders will allow students to record events and share them via open houses, parent-teacher conferences, and the school web site.


Emily Palmer, Elysian School, Billings. At this small k-8 school, half of the students qualify as low-income and 22 percent are ethnic minority. “While we are proud of the high quality education we provide, we need to more effectively meet the different needs of our students,” says Palmer.


Her $500 grant will allow Palmer to buy the software Inspiration, a research-based application that helps students plan and organize thoughts for verbal and written projects, research and evaluate ideas in all subject areas, comprehend and communicate ideas verbally and in writing, and increase technology skills.


Rebecca King, 1st grade teacher, Broadwater Elementary, Billings. To help with her goal of making math lessons more interactive and hands-on, King will use her $300 grant to buy materials including MathStart books and teaching guides; math activity reference books; and manipulatives such as plastic coins, pattern blocks, and connecting rods.


Ross Darner, 5th-8th grade teacher, Evergreen School, Kalispell. Darner’s $500 grant will help pay for staffing, healthy snacks, and field trips for the school’s Evergreen Fitness Team, an after-school and summer program. Fitness Team provides students with a health risk evaluation and a personal workout and nutrition program designed to fit their specific needs.


“This program receives no funds from the school district,” says Darner. “All funds are raised via grants, pizza card sales, car washes, and a school carnival.” Due to the high percentage of poverty in the school district, students participate for free.


Geoffrey Habel, 9th-12th grade teacher, Great Falls High School. Great Falls High uses an engaging, fun, project-based learning program called “WarFair” that includes about 600 English, math, science, history, art, business, Montana history, and drama students. “The goal is simply to engage all students in a lesson that encompasses a variety of subject areas and allows them to immerse themselves in a topic that produces real-life learning and gets real life results,” Habel says. Results show the program is achieving this goal. Habel’s $350 grant will help purchase art supplies.