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RMC Media Team, 406.657.1105, media@rocky.edu

Joliet teaching crew springs from Rocky Mountain College 

BILLINGS, April 28, 2014 – There was a time when Billings Polytechnic Institute and Intermountain Union College (two predecessors of Rocky Mountain College) provided most of the teachers in schools across eastern Montana. Graduates of both schools’ Normal Training programs became educators who taught in many of the state’s rural schools. 

Now in 2014, when a student graduates from Joliet public schools, in a pleasant little Montana town toward the Beartooth Mountains an hour southwest of Billings, he or she may have enjoyed nine teachers who are Rocky Mountain College graduates in education. 

Lucy Jensen (’82) and Gloria (Loyning) Hardy (’84) both teach 3rd grade. Jensen says, “I would say to current students, ‘Find your passion, go for it, and be open to whatever comes along.’ I was only going to teach in little Joliet one year – 32 years later, I'm still here loving my school and this area. There are so many opportunities in a small school system for county, state, and national involvement in education.” In 2008, Jensen was in the national news explaining how her students adapted to Pluto’s loss of its planetary status. That change was harder for parents, she pointed out.

Hardy's husband, geologist Joel Hardy(’82), and her two daughters, Katelyn (Hoefle) (’08) and DeLaney (’14), are also Rocky alumni. DeLaney graduates in May. “Joliet is a good school with excellent students,” Hardy said. She said her husband loved classes with history professor and former RMC president Lawrence Small. 

Mary Koon (‘83), who teaches middle school English and geography, enjoys the “Rocky crew at Joliet.” She said, “Delmar Langbell [professor of education] made sure that we were well prepared. [PE and health professor] Nancy Jones Downing pushed me to excel, to take risks that I would never have taken, in her tumbling units on the balance beam and vault.”

Joni Bell (’85) taught music in kindergarten through 12th grade for over 25 years in Joliet until retiring last year. She is enjoying retirement, Koon said, and now works as the education director of the Beartooth Humane Alliance in Red Lodge, Mont.

Brice Turk (’86) is the Joliet high school/middle school counselor. His wife Shelly (Pauley) Turk (’83) taught high school English for many years until retiring in 2013. “[English professor] Margaret Murphy meant the world to her,” said Brice Turk. “She would have huge arguments with [philosophy professor] Thomas Dicken.” Shelly Turk now owns an antique mall in Billings.

As Turk now counsels students from 7th through 12th grades, he knows about teachers: “The good ones challenge you.”

“Clifford Clarkwas a great one;” he said, “he’d be hopping around, just a joy. He was relentless.”

Marcie (Wilson) Peters (’02) teaches high school math. “Every Joliet student sees me,” she said, for Algebra I through calculus. Bill Jamisonwas a good math teacher, she said, who “taught us how to teach math.” She also gave a shout out to music professor Fred Binckes’ History of Jazz class. “He knew everything,” she said. Peters’ brother Brett Wilson graduated from RMC in 2005.

Jeromey Burke (’05) teaches Joliet students business. He was good friends with Anthony Piltz, RMC professor of business administration and economics. 

George Warburton (’03), who instructs health enhancement at Joliet High School, married Stacy (Nevrivy) Warbuton (’04). He said, “Rocky affected my teaching career in many positive ways.”

“First, I understand the importance of being prepared and organized everyday in my lesson plans; thanks, Shelley Ellis [professor of education]! Second, I’ve learned how to reach and teach all the different learning styles that students may have; thanks, Paul Roper [professor of physical education]. And third, I make each student feel welcome and comfortable in my class; thanks, Clarece Lacy [professor of physical education and health]. I remember doing lesson plans five and six times over,” he said. “The best part about teaching, aside from being able to wear shorts everyday, is watching kids grow into young adults.”

Joliet’s trove of teachers exemplifies the personal engagement of Rocky Mountain College educators who for generations have mentored community schools of Montana and the northern plains. 

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