Paul Andersen named 2011 Teacher of the Year

Bigfork and Sidney teachers chosen as finalists


News update: Paul Andersen has been chosen as one of four national finalists in the National Teacher of the Year event!


Watch Paul's amazing video about teaching.


October 2011 - The Montana Professional Teaching Foundation has announced the 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year: Paul Andersen of Bozeman. To be named Teacher of the Year is the highest honor a Montana teacher can achieve.

Andersen teaches Advanced Placement Biology and Physical Science at Bozeman High School.

“Paul’s extraordinary talent is matched only by his ability to get ordinary people to understand the complex topics he teaches,” said Andersen’s colleague, Ken Gibson. “He has the uncanny skill to connect with students who struggle as well as those who achieve at high levels.”


Former students speak of Andersen with “reverence,” said colleague Scott Taylor, and many of them say Andersen inspired them to pursue careers in science or medicine themselves.


The Montana Teacher of the Year program annually recognizes a teacher who exemplifies the best in the teaching profession. The program is sponsored and administered by the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation.


An interview committee composed of 2010 Montana Teacher of the Year Anne Keith, other educators, a parent, a high school student, Montana Board of Public Education Chair Patty Myers, and business sponsor Tim Warner of Blue Cross Blue Shield chose Andersen from among three finalists September 11.


Andersen not only shares his fascination with the natural world with his students, he speaks their language in terms of technology, using Facebook, texting, and YouTube as teaching tools.


“We could throw up our hands and ban technology from our schools, or we could see this as a teachable moment,” Andersen says. “Curriculum is not just a textbook anymore. It is videos, podcasts, discussion boards, wikis, blogs, primary documents, and much more.”


Andersen has been posting lessons to YouTube for two years. (You can see his videos at Students can preview and review lessons from class at home on their own schedule. And it isn’t just Bozeman High School students who are benefiting: Andersen’s videos have generated over 280,000 views from around the world.


Andersen’s leadership and expertise with technology has led the entire Bozeman School District to become more tech-savvy for the benefit of better teaching and learning, according to Bozeman Superintendent Kirk Miller.


In a joint letter of support for Andersen’s nomination as Teacher of the Year, Miller and Assistant Superintendent Marilyn King wrote, “Paul is a visionary in the same class as Steve Jobs and Ted Sizer.” Plus, they wrote, Andersen has the passion to help students, teachers, and administrators “move toward their personal visions of excellence.”


Andersen earned his degrees in biology and science education at Montana State University-Bozeman.

As Montana Teacher of the Year, he will serve as a spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession and represent Montana in the 2011 National Teacher of the Year event.


Finalists: Finalists in the 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year event are Elaine Stedman, a business, computer, and French teacher in Sidney; and Mary Dockstader Sullivan, an English teacher at Bigfork High School.


Andersen, Stedman, and Sullivan all will be honored at a gala celebration October 21 in Helena. The Montana Professional Teaching Foundation sponsors the celebration in conjunction with the annual MEA-MFT Educators’ Conference.


The Montana Professional Teaching Foundation, based in Helena, works to enhance the teaching profession and promote quality education in Montana. The Montana Teacher of the Year program is one of several events and projects sponsored by the foundation. Others include:

• the Karen Cox Memorial Grants to help teachers who pay for classroom resources out of their own pockets;

• the annual Montana Educator Forum that brings educators and policy makers together to address cutting edge issues in education;

• National Board Scholarships & Candidate Support; and

• Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Teaching.


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