Global Educator of the Year
Each year, the Montana World Affairs Council is pleased to honor an educator who has made exceptional contributions to broadening the global horizons of their students and colleagues. The Global Educator of the Year Award is bestowed upon an outstanding K-12 teacher who has gone above and beyond their normal classroom responsibilities to promote international awareness and understanding. Not only have our previous Global Educator of the Year recipients contributed to the development of global minds, they have developed resources so that other educators and community members are better prepared to meet a major challenge of our time: informing our youth about world affairs.
The Global Educator of the Year receives a $500 donation to purchase international classroom materials, publications, and resources, generously donated by Drs. Edwin and Janet House.
Nominations may come from a principal, colleague, parent, or student that can speak to the educator’s strengths as they relate to this award.
Previous Global Educators of the Year
2021 Global Educator of the Year
Diana Burd, Cuts Wood Immersion School
Diana Burd is a Blackfeet Language teacher at the Cuts Wood Immersion School in Browning, Montana. Diana not only teaches, but she also helps train teachers and develop creative ways of preserving the Blackfeet Language. She has created songs, stories, plays, games, and other materials to help with her teachings across all levels and age groups. She continues to be a consultant for developers of mobile apps and videos. She has helped organizations with translating and developing descriptive words that were not part of the Blackfeet language. She is an advocate fighting for funding to help in the quest for preservation and continuance of the indigenous languages. In the summer months, as a teacher for the Cuts Wood School she hosts people from across the United States and around the world to share her knowledge of culture and language words to people from different countries despite language barriers. Diana’s first language is Blackfeet. A language that was once forbidden to speak is now a priority to teach. She has been teaching Blackfeet for about 45 years. She has taught at all academic levels across pre-k, primary, secondary, and post secondary in addition to community members including elders and international guests and audiences.
2020 Global Educator of the Year
Christina Cote-Reinhart, Gardiner Public Schools
Christina Cote-Reinhart has been the only Social Studies teacher in grades 7-12 in Gardiner Public School for 20 years, teaching courses in U.S. History, World History, Government, AP European History and AP U.S. Government and Politics. She has a B.A. in Political Science and History from Texas A&M University and an M.A. from Ashland University in History and Government, receiving the James Madison Fellowship. For those same years, she has coached Speech and Debate winning 14 state championships and was named Speech Coach of the Year three times. She has served as Legislative Adviser in the YMCA Youth and Government program for many years. Considering Holocaust education integral to student’s education, she became a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Fellow in 2019. Taking students abroad has been a real joy of her career. She has taken students on many European spring break trips, and participated in a State Department exchange program with Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Last year, she was honored to participate in the Kakehashi Program in Japan. Participation in Montana Academic Worldquest fulfills her goals as an educator to enlarge students’ worldview and is one of her favorite extracurricular activities. She considers global education essential for future citizens’ ability to understand pressing world issues and recognizing the humanity of those outside our borders.
2019 Global Educator of the Year
John Tooke, Custer County District High School
John Tooke is a Social Studies teacher at Custer County District High School, teaching World History, U.S. History, and Government. His educational goals are improving the curriculum to comprehensively teach genocide education throughout the entire curriculum. He has spent the last few years coordinating Holocaust education outreach to the community by bringing Holocaust survivors to our community for presentations. He organizes a yearly trip to Washington DC to enhance the CCDHS students’ learning experience. An important part of this DC trip is the visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and having a speaker at the museum present to the students. John has also been organizing trips to Auschwitz, Poland that enable students to join a Holocaust survivor in her place of capture and hear her personal story of survival. John Tooke was nominated by Principal Beez Lucero.
2018 Global Educator of the Year
Edward Hentges, Wolf Point High School
Edward Hentges teaches United States History, Ancient World History, Modern World History, and Current Events at Wolf Point High School. For the last three years, he has brought students to Academic WorldQuest in Missoula, Montana, traveling from 485 miles away. Edward Hentges writes “It is my sincere desire to exercise students’ skills pertaining to empathy and exploration. This was my main motivation three years ago when I decided to try and provide an opportunity to expand some of my student’s perceptions. For many, the outside world exists as another wholly apart from us. I wanted to challenge the idea that the world stops at our reservation’s borders.”
2016 Global Educator of the Year
Patricia Hixson, Hellgate High School, Missoula
Patty Hixson teaches Modern World History and International Baccalaureate: 20th Century Topics at Hellgate High School in Missoula, where she has been educating students since 2001. Aside from being Hellgate’s Academic WorldQuest Advisor (and winning state four times), she has also been an advisor Model United Nations and Amnesty International, as well led student trips to India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. She holds a BA and MA in History.
2015 Global Educator of the Year
Bill Shannon, Park High School, Livingston
Bill Shannon has dedicated his time to enhancing global education and classroom involvement for the last 32 years. He has been a special education teacher as well as a social studies teacher, teaching classes such as World History, World Cultures, and French. He promotes understanding through guest speakers, food days, videoconferences, and participation in Model United Nations and Academic WorldQuest. Bill has also led three international student trips to Japan.
2014 Global Educator of the Year
Amy Wallner-Drake, Bozeman High School
Amy Wallner-Drake has been going above and beyond to teach global awareness and understanding for over 11 years at Bozeman High School. Amy is passionate about the world and demonstrates that passion by creating experiences for her students to embrace global opportunities, such as arranging guest speakers, mobilizing field trips, and holding informational sessions for students during lunch. Each year, she serves as a mentor to another teacher from a different country through the Teaching Excellence Award program.
2013 Global Educator of the Year
Geoffry Habel, Great Falls High School
The Montana World Affairs Council is pleased to announce the 2013 honoree Mr. Geoffry Habel of Great Falls High School. Geoffry Habel, a Social Studies teacher from Great Falls High School, was nominated by Great Falls Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Tom Moore and his nomination was supported by a letter from Great Falls High School Principal, Jane Gregoire.
2022 GLOBAL EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR
Ryan Cooney, Project for Alternative Learning in Helena
Ryan teaches Government, History, and World Cultures at the Project for Alternative Learning in Helena, Montana, as well as Government and AP Government for Montana Digital Academy. Previously, he taught World Cultures, Government, and AP Government at Capital High School from 2007-2018. Ryan is seriously passionate about social studies, especially current events and global affairs, and frequently gets tricked into discussing headlines and current events for entire class periods by his students, who know him far too well.
Ryan and his wife Erika have one son, Edward Lee Cooney, who was born in August of 2021. They have a cat (Jack), two dogs (Rudy and Blackbeard), and a Honduran Curly Haired Tarantula (Teddy Roosevelt). When not in the classroom or helping students prepare for Montana Academic WorldQuest, he and his family can be found in the mountains hiking/biking/ skiing/ snowmobiling, working on the family cabin in Elliston, Montana, or on the water at the Gates of the Mountains on the Missouri River.
Ryan and his students have participated in AWQ for the past four years and have thoroughly enjoyed it. He feels strongly that the path to a happy, productive, and empathetic populace starts with educating students about the wonders of the world and the people who live in it. The challenges we face are immense, but we have the power to vanquish them; the tools that we need to solve our problems are unlocked with knowledge.