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Rural educator given University of Montana teaching excellence award

Potomac School teacher Abby Stitt has been awarded $4,000 from the University of Montana College of Education
Posted at 8:41 AM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 10:41:24-04

POTOMAC — Whether it’s 1,000 kids, or 100, teaching can often be an underappreciated profession, but during Teacher Appreciation Week, some organizations take the time to show some extra gratitude.

Abby Stitt — a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Potomac School — was awarded $4,000 from the University of Montana College of Education on Monday, May 6.

The Maryfrances Shreeve Award for Teaching Excellence began in 1992 as a way to honor elementary or middle school teachers in Montana.

The award is given to one teacher each year, along with a $3,000 personal check and a $1,000 check for the school.

The award recipient is nominated by their colleagues and administration. They must have taught in Montana public schools for at least 10 years and plan to continue teaching for two more years.

The nomination instructions state the teacher should also have “a reputation for ‘going the extra mile’ to assist students both within the classroom and outside the classroom.”

For Stitt’s fellow teachers, there was no question that she’d be a great recipient of the Maryfrances Shreeve Award.

“I am just so delighted that Abby received this award,” Ashley Olsen, a teacher at Potomac said at the award ceremony. “When I think of the award description, she meets all the criteria. I definitely consider her a teacher leader in our school, she is a mentor to me. I look up to her very much. She takes her job very seriously and she cares for her students tremendously. She’s very dedicated to her profession.”

Stitt was surprised with the award during a ceremony on Monday. UM Dean Dan Lee, Monte and other representatives from the UM College of Education presented the award. Stitt’s family was also in attendance.

Stitt said she’s grateful to receive recognition for her 15 years of work at Potomac.

“It’s huge, It’s absolutely huge to be recognized for it and to be recognized by people that I care about so much,” she said.

More than recognition for Stitt, the staff and administration at Potomac is glad to see some love for their small school. Potomac currently has just over 100 students enrolled.

“It’s important for our rural schools to get this type of recognition just to demonstrate and show how powerful the learning is in our small schools,” Potomac School Principal Sarah Schmill said. “Just because we’re small, we are still pretty mighty. So the education is just top notch here at our school, and Abby is a testament to some of the educators that are here.”