Ronan teacher Becker honored for inspiring students

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    WILLIAM BECKER

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    RONAN MIDDLE School math teacher William Becker uses his white board for a demonstration to students in his classroom Tuesday. Becker finished in the top 30 nationwide in a Norwegian Cruise Line contest. (Lexi Gauthier/ Lake County Leader)

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    WILLIAM BECKER

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    RONAN MIDDLE School math teacher William Becker uses his white board for a demonstration to students in his classroom Tuesday. Becker finished in the top 30 nationwide in a Norwegian Cruise Line contest. (Lexi Gauthier/ Lake County Leader)

William “Bill” Becker, educator at Ronan Middle School in Ronan, was recently celebrated at Norwegian Cruise Line’s award gala event in Seattle on May 4. Becker was announced as one of 30 winners of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Giving Joy campaign who was recognized for their inspiring story and outstanding work they’ve done in their classrooms to celebrate and educate students on the joy of travel and education.

Becker teaches all eighth grade match and sixth-grade accelerated math at Ronan Middle School. He has taught in Ronan for eight years, since moving to Montana from Las Vegas with his wife Sarah after teaching for six years there. All three of Becker’s college degrees come from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

The month-long campaign, which recognized the powerful connection between travel and education, launched in advance of the newly revitalized Norwegian Joy’s North American inaugural sailing during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10, 2019). The 30 teachers with the most votes won a seven-day cruise for two and were provided with airfare and accommodations for an award ceremony in Seattle on May 3, 2019. There, at the event hosted by Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Andy Stuart and nationally syndicated radio personality Elvis Duran, the three grand prize finalists were awarded with $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 for their schools.

Becker will not receive a cash award for to benefit his classroom. “They did send us $2,000 in memberships in programs to try out,” he said Tuesday afternoon,” for educational technology things.”

BECKER RECEIVED an anonymous nomatination for the Giving Joy award, and to this day he said he does not know who nominated him. Becker said Sarah looked up the nominees for the Giving Joy campaign. “She asked me if I knew I was on there [the list], and I did not,” Becker said.

Becker and his wife traveled to Seattle last Thursday, May 2, and had an afternoon to “explore” the city. There was a gala Friday evening, May 3 at the Hard Rock Cafe. There was a gathering and then the awards ceremony. “They gave everyone a trophy,” Becker said, “and they interviewed each person, like on the red carpet. Saturday, May 4 was declared “Seattle Day of Joy” by the Seattle mayor, to commemorate Norwegian Joy porting that day in Seattle. It came from New York via the Panama Canal. The ship will sail on Carribean cruises.

“Reading the nomination it says the general fact is that my classroom doesn’t run like the normal classroom. I make my classroom more interactive, so students can explore on their own,” Becker said. “They can look at different ways of solving problems, without formulas. It’s a comfortable classroom.” He said that former students, who are now at Ronan High School, come back to his classroom for guidance that can help at the higher level.

“It’s the joy of teaching,” Becker said. “I work with a great group of people and I consider myself lucky and it’s an honor to be nominated. When really nice things like this come up we truly enjoy being in the classroom. I like people who like math. If they are willing to try and put out a good effort, I feel like I’ve succeeded with them ... The more positive we promote the better.”

“I could not be happier with the tremendous response our Giving Joy campaign has received,” said Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Andy Stuart. “Through this effort, we were able to raise awareness of the important work teachers do every day and reward truly amazing educators for their meaningful contributions.

“I’ve been a part of the cruise industry for over 30 years and I can’t remember a time when we launched a ship with so much joy,” said Stuart. “We have been sailing from Seattle for 20 years - the first cruise line to do so. I am tremendously grateful to the Port of Seattle for our partnership and to Mayor Jenny Durkin for the proclamation of “Seattle Day of Joy!”

Becker is heading into the last four weeks of the 2018-19 school year, and the summer will be just as busy. He’s running two summer camps through a grant from NASA. Then there is a six-week fellowship for Becker at MSU in Bozeman. Following that, he’ll be looking forward to his night year teaching for the 2019-20 school year. It truly is a “labor of love” for Becker.

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