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Richard Jonasen named 2013 Distinguished Alumni

UMW News Bureau

Richard JonasenWith over three decades of teaching and education administration to his name, University of Montana Western alumnus Richard Jonasen will be honored with the 2013 Distinguished Alumni award.

Jonasen attended Montana Western from the fall of 1959 to the spring of 1963, earning a Bachelor of Science in Education before receiving a master’s degree in education from the University of Montana in 1968.

Jonasen taught in the Montana Children’s Center in Twin Bridges, Mont. before teaching as a high school and elementary teacher in Superior, Mont. He also served as a principal in both the high school and elementary levels in Superior. After seven years in Superior, Jonasen and his wife Carol returned to Dillon, Mont. as he began a 27-year career as the principal of Parkview Elementary School. He also had responsibilities as principal of the Mary Innes School during those 27 years.

He was recognized as a National Distinguished Principal and received a Montana State Reading Council Administrator in Reading Award in 1996. He won the Office of Public Instruction School Food Services Award in 1998 and helped to earn Beaverhead D.A.R.E. Program recognition also in 1998.

“I spent 35 years in education and 30 years as principal, and as I look back, if I had to do it all again, I would’ve chosen the same path,” Jonasen explained. “I feel it was a very rewarding career.”

A military veteran, Jonasen also maintains an active civic life. He is a past member of the Dillon Jaycees, a past commander of the American Legion Post #20, past president of the Dillon Lion’s Club and past president of the Montana Western Alumni Association. He has been a member of the Western Presidents Club, the Beaver Booster Club, the Bulldog Booster Club, the Dillon Elks and the Montana Western Alumni Hall of Fame Committee. He is a past member of the Beaverhead Museum Board, a past member of the Parkview School Council and a past board member of Southwest Montana Educational Cooperative (SMEC). He has been an American Legion volunteer for health equipment loan programs and veteran funeral services and has assisted with vision screening services for children in southwest Montana as a member of the Dillon Lions Club.

In addition to meeting his wife of 49 years, Carol, at Montana Western, Jonasen said the university offered him other lasting relationships and a solid career.

“I loved school at Western,” Jonasen said. “I had outstanding professors that taught me a lot, and I also made some amazing friendships. The impact Western left was outstanding and life-changing for my career. It launched my career in education. It’s a tremendous honor to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, and I’m very humbled to receive it knowing it’s where I started my career. It brings me full circle.”

Jonasen also said looking back at 35 years spent in education also gives him a grateful perspective on his career.

“I spent 35 years in education and 30 years as principal, and as I look back, if I had to do it all again, I would’ve chosen the same path,” Jonasen explained. “I feel it was a very rewarding career.”

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