Corvallis Woman named Montana History Teacher of the Year

Jenifer Powell has been named the 2024 Centennial Bell Montana History Teacher of the Year.

Powell, who teaches seventh-grade social studies at Corvallis Middle School, was recognized for her exceptional dedication and passion for educating students about Montana’s history.

“Jenifer excels at creating an engaging learning environment that promotes critical thinking, curiosity, and a deep appreciation for history among her students,” wrote fellow teacher Darci Herbstritt in a nomination letter. “She has a remarkable ability to make history come alive and connect it to the lives of her students.”

With five years of teaching experience at Corvallis, Powell enjoys exploring Montana’s evolution with her students, including the study of dinosaurs and prehistoric ancestors.

“I chose to teach history to expose students to cultural diversity,” Powell explained. “It’s crucial for my students to encounter diverse ideas, backgrounds, and cultures because Montana remains a diverse community.”

Her immersive teaching approach extends to an annual field trip to the Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming, where students learn about the impacts of diversity, particularly during wartime.

“In my classroom, we discuss how we are all unique, coming from different backgrounds and beliefs, yet sharing the same desires for acceptance, friendship, and love,” Powell reflected. “Being nominated for the Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award is a great honor.”

Powell’s students find her lessons on Montana’s history captivating and enriching.

“She makes Montana history fascinating and keeps us engaged and entertained while teaching us so much without us even realizing it,” commented Blakelee Borden, one of Powell’s students.

As part of the award, Powell will receive $3,250 from sponsors Montana Television Network and the Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers. The funds can be used to enhance student learning through classroom materials, guest speakers, and field trips. Additional support for Powell’s educational projects comes from the Montana Historical Society and the 1889 Coffeehouse in Helena.

On November 8th at 10:29 a.m., Powell and her students will ring the Centennial Bell, commemorating the exact moment when Montana achieved statehood as the 41st state in 1889. The award was established in 1989 by MTHS trustee Norma Ashby-Smith to honor Montana’s centennial statehood celebration.

By: Big Sky Headlines staff