GHS grad named Montana 2022 Teacher of the Year photo

(Back, L-R) Arlee School Superintendent Dr. Mike Perry, Billy Stockton, Montana State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen, and (front, L-R) Norah Stockton and Brooklyn Stockton.

LOLO, Mont. — A Grangeville native recently received a career honor. Billy Stockton, a 2003 graduate of Grangeville High School, was named the Montana 2022 Teacher of the Year.

“Teaching is an amazing profession. I absolutely love getting to build relationships with my students and watching them learn new concepts and grow into successful adults,” Stockton said. “I even have the privilege of teaching beside a few of my former students.”

Stockton is the son of Rhonda Stockton and Tom Cassill of Grangeville.

Following graduation from GHS, he attended the University of Montana where he graduated in 2007 with a BA in biology with a science teaching endorsement.

“I started teaching middle school computers at Bonner Middle School in Bonner, Mont., and was then hired in 2010 at Arlee High School in Arlee, Mont.,” he recently told the Free Press.

Arlee is located in the southern part of the Flathead Indian Reservation and is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes.

At Arlee, he teaches biology, AP biology, anatomy, principles of health science, physics and chemistry.

“I went back to school while teaching and received a masters of science in science education from Montana State University in 2016,” he said. He is also the lead original credit earth science teacher for the Montana Digital Academy, which is a state online program.

Stockton credits his educational foundation in Grangeville as part of his success.

“Without a doubt, the education I received at GHS made a huge difference in my life,” he said. “I had several teachers who not only taught me the academic content and skills I needed, but also taught me many life skills that went well beyond the walls of their classrooms,” he said.

“In fact, I never would have come to Montana to study if it wasn’t for my high school chemistry and physics teacher, Mr. Willig. I owe a great deal of my success to him and many other amazing educators in Grangeville,” Stockton added.

He said during my interview for teacher of the year he discussed why he became a teacher.

“I recalled two instances that I vividly remember from my time at Grangeville public schools. The first was the day after the Columbine tragedy, and I remember Mr. Collins having a very emotional conversation with us about the need to treat each other with respect and to look out for each other,” he said. “The next was the morning of 9/11 and I had first-period U.S. history with Mr. Sullivan, and I remember watching the news and how open and honest he was with us.”

“These real moments showed me how much my teachers cared and how lucky I was to have them as role models,” Stockton emphasized.

Stockton and his wife, Betsy, an RN at Community Medical Center in Missoula, have two daughters: Norah, 5th grade, and Brooklyn, 3rd grade.

“I don’t get to come back to Grangeville as often as I would like, but I do try to get home for the Fourth of July,” Stockton said.

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