BILLINGS — Jim Noble didn't know if he wanted to hear his name called or not.
"I started to get a little nervous," the Will James Middle School science teacher said. "If this is me, this is going to be really scary. I don’t want to get up in front of all these people."
The smile on his face when it was his name announced at the school assembly showed his true feeling. Noble was one of seven teachers from Billings School District 2 honored Thursday with the 2022 Golden Apple Awards, given annually to those who exemplify excellence in education. A dedicated committee of 20 local volunteers chose seven out of 173 who were nominated by letters from students or staff.
"I love the kids," Noble said, "so to have the kids come back and say we love you too, it’s going to be a great day - for like a year."
Fred Petak’s ceremony was quieter, much like his role is as a Billings West High School dean of students. It’s often thankless.
"The rewards are few, but when they come, we take them as big wins. It fills the bucket," Petak said.
Petak is happy to share the win with all those who are overlooked.
"It means a tremendous amount for the people who aren’t recognized, like the two deans I work with every day, the two counselors I work with every day," he said. "So it's a big deal."
At Boulder Elementary School, things got emotional quickly for fourth-grade teacher Ashley Olson.
"They got me good on this one. I had no idea," Olson said. "I absolutely love what I do. This is a very special honor for something I throw my whole heart and soul into because it means so much to me."
The topper for Olson? Seeing a lot of her family walk through the door to share the moment with her.
"The icing on the cake," she said. "To have their support, and even to allow my students to meet them, that was very special to me."
The full list of 2022 Golden Apple Award winners is below:
Ashley Olson, Elementary – Boulder – 4th grade teacher
Deborah Goodell, Elementary – Highland – Special Education teacher
Jim Noble, Middle School – Will James – Science teacher
Teresa Mountains, High School – Senior High – Spanish teacher
Rod Grotbo, Support Staff – Senior High – Custodian
Chad Jackson, Specialist – Ponderosa – Counselor
Fred Petak, Administrator – West High – Asst. Principal/Dean of Students