Necole Hanks was in for a very pleasant surprise when she attended a Monday morning assembly at Powell Middle School.
The assembly, which had been announced as being for another purpose, was instead to honor Hanks as the Park County School District No. 1 Teacher of the Year.
Hanks described it as the cap to an “emotional weekend” that included her daughter Maddy competing at the state track meet in Casper, then graduating from high school on Sunday.
“I am completely thankful [and] completely humbled by this award,” Hanks said, saying some great teachers have been selected over the years.
Hanks said she got into teaching because she loves science and the ability “to be able to share that experience with kids and just to light their fire.”
“It’s so rewarding to see a kid that doesn’t seem to have much motivation or interest, and just see them light up,” she said. “To know that they can do it — they can carry on an experiment, they can design an engineering project, follow through with that and feel good about it in the end. To know that they did that, that that’s something that they can be proud of.”
District Superintendent Jay Curtis described Hanks as unassuming and humble — but a well-deserving choice as Teacher of the Year.
“This is just my first year in Powell, and I can tell you that I was immediately impressed by Necole Hanks,” Curtis said. “One of my goals when I started this position was to try and make it to as many classrooms as I could. Her classroom was one I just wanted to go back to. It was just fun to watch her teach.”
Adam Williams, one of Hanks’ students, described her as a “really great science teacher.
“She’s not the kind that just lets you get away with things — she makes sure that you work very hard in her class,” Williams said. “That’s good for a lot of us, because she helps us whenever we need help.”
Weston Reynolds, another one of Hanks’ students, also had words of praise.
“She’s one of the teachers that helped me push hard this year and actually get stuff done,” Reynolds said. “I like to work hard, so she was a great teacher for pushing me and helping me do my best.”
Powell Middle School Principal Jason Sleep said that Hanks is “second to none.”
“Necole has been a contributor to the staff for a long time,” Sleep said. “She started here as a para-professional, worked a few years [and got] her science degree. There was a position [open and] she blew away the other candidates that had interviewed and ever since, hasn’t looked back. She’s worked hard to develop her content for kids. She always thinks of kids first and she collaborates with her teachers as good as I’ve ever seen.”
Sleep called her a “great teammate” who’s willing to both follow and lead.
Hanks now is a candidate for Wyoming Teacher of the Year, which will be announced later this year.
“I am truly honored by this and totally surprised. I’m just very grateful — very grateful [for] those awesome words of my kids,” she said Monday. “That just touches me right at the heart, makes it all worth it.”