HELENA — Eric Chaon of Great Falls will be honored as Montana History Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022 on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 10 a.m. near the Statehood Centennial Bell in the State Capitol in Helena.
Chosen by a panel of Montana history advocates from submissions by the teacher’s peers and students, Chaon is the 33rd winner of the Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award.
“Mr. Chaon is deserving of this prestigious award because of the connection he makes with his students, the engaging way in which he teaches, and his love for bettering the growth of his students,” Great Falls High School Senior Cale Gundlach wrote in a letter of support.
“I immerse students in analyzing images, letters, broadsides, and other primary sources from Montana history,” Chaon said. “I also use class competitions, online challenges, and games to encourage student interest and engagement.”
Chaon will receive a plaque and $4,500 from three sponsors: the Montana Television Network, the Montana History Foundation, and the Sons & Daughters of Montana Pioneers. Other partners are the Montana Historical Society and the 1889 Coffee House in Helena.
Additional gifts of $100 in gold Sacajawea coins from Judy Wohlfrom of Woodland, Calif., are given to the student who writes the letter of support for the winning teacher. Another gold Sacajawea dollar is given from Mike Collins, president of the Sons and Daughter of Montana Pioneers, and his wife Connie, to each student who accompanies the winning teacher to the Helena awards ceremony.
A Great Falls native, Chaon is currently the Social Studies Department head at Great Falls High School. He is a 2006 graduate of Great Falls High School and a 2010 graduate from Montana State University in Bozeman. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education, and a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction. Chaon taught middle school and high school social studies in Augusta from 2011-2013, and world history and Montana history at Great Falls High School since 2013.
“I was able to fully see the dedication Eric brings to not only his classroom but also to the relationships he builds with his students,” said GFHS Librarian Jerry Hopkins, who wrote a letter of support for Chaon. “Mr. Chaon’s classroom persona is loud, animated, and humorous. This combination of passion for education makes his students want to attend his class and look forward to what each lesson will bring.”