Eric Chaon

The following is a press release from Great Falls Public Schools:

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Eric Chaon, Sophomore teacher at Great Falls High School in Great Falls, Mt. is the winner of the Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award honoring the Montana History Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022.

Chosen by a panel of Montana History advocates, Eric is the 33rd winner of the award. Montana History teachers at the 7th- 12th grade level are chosen on even numbered years. Montana History teachers at the 4th-6th grade levels are chosen on uneven years.

Born and raised in Great Falls, Mt., Eric is a 2006 graduate of Great Falls High School and a 2010 graduate of Montana State University in Bozeman with a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education, a Social Studies Broadfield and a minor in History. In 2016 he received a master of education Degree in curriculum and instruction from MSU. He is married to Hayley Chaon and they have two children, a daughter Lola, and a son Bryson. Eric enjoys camping, fishing, skiing, sports events and spending time with family across Montana.

His teaching experience includes Middle School and High School Social Studies at Augusta, Mt. 2011-2013 and at Great Falls High School , world history and Montana history, 2013-present. He is the current Social Studies Department head at GFHS.

In his approach to teaching Montana history, Eric said, “I immerse students in analyzing images, letters, broadsides and other primary sources from Montana history. I also use class competitions, online challenges, and games to encourage student interest and engagement.”

In his support letter for Eric, Jerry Hopkins, Librarian at GFHS said, “I was able to fully see the dedication Eric brings to not only his classroom but to the relationships he builds with his students. 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.”

From his student support letter, Cale Gundlach, senior at GFHS said, “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.”

As the winner of this year’s Montana History Teacher of the Year Award, Eric 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 dollars are given to the student who writes the letter of support for the winning teacher from Judy Wohlfrom of Woodland, Ca., one gold Sacajawea dollar for each of the students who accompanies the winning teacher from Mike Collins, President of the SDMP and his wife Connie of Helena.

These gifts will be given to Eric and his students at a ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov 9, 2022 near the Statehood Centennial Bell on the east balcony overlooking the rotunda in the State Capitol. Highlight of the ceremony attended by State Dignitaries, GFHS officials, sponsors and students will be the ringing of the Statehood Centennial Bell by Eric and his students at 10:40 a.m., the exact minute Montana became the 41st State in 1889.

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