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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 05 2012

Andrea Noonan named West Fargo Teacher of the Year

WEST FARGO – Sometimes life gives you a lift when you need it most.

Andrea Noonan got her lift Thursday.

In a surprise ceremony, Noonan, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Cheney Middle School, was named the West Fargo School District’s 2012-13 Teacher of the Year.

For Noonan, who attended West Fargo schools as a student, it was a humbling experience as colleagues gave her a standing ovation in the school’s theater to start out her day.

“The whole ceremony was pretty overwhelming,” she said. “These are the people I look up to, and they’re giving me a standing ovation as Teacher of the Year. It was pretty surreal at that point.

“It’s a real honor. I grew up in West Fargo, so some of these teachers have been modeling for me for a long time what it means to be a great teacher.”

Her mother and father, brother and sister-in-law, and her grandmother, Pat Noonan, were also on hand, making for lots of hugs all around, she said.

“She’s a go-getter. As an educator, she’s passionate about the content area that she works with,” said Denise Jones, an assistant principal and activities director at Cheney.

“In the classroom, she just has this dynamic personality that draws students in to want to learn,” she said. “She just makes every lesson seem enjoyable.”

Noonan also coaches cross country, takes part in maintaining the district’s accreditation and works on a curriculum committee for language, Jones said.

Noonan is working on her master’s degree and aiming to get her National Board Certification, an advanced teaching credential, Jones said.

“So she’s everywhere. She’s just everywhere,” Jones said.

Cheney Principal Don Lennon came up with the plan that helped make the event a surprise. He just told the staff that it was a mandatory meeting with Superintendent David Flowers to talk about strategic planning.

“She’s well-deserving of the award,” Lennon said.

Noonan is a proponent of fostering 21st-century skills – making sure all students can be creative, learn to collaborate and are comfortable with technology.

She’d also like to integrate cellphones and social media into the classrooms to help students learn.

“The kids’ educations are at stake. We just need to keep trying and showing them how to use these tools safely,” Noonan said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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