Wyoming Teacher Earns “Oscar of Teaching”

Students at some schools bike to class, but students of Shannon Hill at Thermopolis Middle School bike in class.

The Wyoming Physical Education and Health teacher thinks way outside the box, building outdoor activities right into her classes.

Taking advantage of her small town's natural setting, nestled at the southern end of the Big Horn Basin, Hill treats her students to hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing and even an annual off-campus camping trip.

But it was Hill who was served up a treat this morning indoors at a surprise school assembly.

She was presented with a prestigious Milken Educator Award by Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and Milken Family Foundation Senior Program Administrator Greg Gallagher.

Hill was named a 2017-18 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. She is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Wyoming this year, and is among the 44 honorees for 2017-18.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching” has been opening minds and shaping futures for 30 years.

Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement.

The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America’s next generation of leaders.

Milken Educators believe, “The future belongs to the educated.”

Far more than glorified rural recess, Hill's interdisciplinary Health and PE classes incorporate math and science concepts while also promoting mental health and wellness—all disguised as good old fun. Hill also pumps up her colleagues as she mentors new teachers, engages students after school by coaching volleyball and promotes community runs and fitness events to more fully integrate physical activity into everyday life.

"As Herbert Spencer wrote, 'The great aim of education is not knowledge but action', and by that measure and many more Shannon Hill is fulfilling the great aim by preparing her students for an active life well lived," said Gallagher. "Like all Milken Educators, and great teachers everywhere, Hill pushes her students and her colleagues to be their best in the classroom and in the larger world."

“Shannon Hill’s dedication and commitment to her students goes well beyond the classroom,” said Balow. “She practices what she teaches, and is able to combine Physical Education and Health in a way that touches each student personally. Shannon leads by example, and it shows in the way she inspires everyone around her, whether in the classroom or on the volleyball court, coaching the Lady Cats of Hot Springs High School.”

“Shannon exudes excellence in everything that she does as an educator, coach, and certainly as it pertains to her roles with her own family,” said District Superintendent Dustin Hunt. “The relationships that she builds with students, colleagues, and community are simply beyond measure. She is an amazing role model for lots of reasons, but I believe her deep passion for children would inspire anyone. It certainly inspires me.”

Join News 13 tonight as we speak with Shannon Hill in Thermopolis.