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UMW Alumnus Receives Education Award

January 11, 2019

Chris Fisk, a 1992 graduate of Montana Western, was recognized as the Butte Elevated 2018 Educator of the Year.

This award recognizes an individual who has performed above and beyond in the education sector of Butte, developed innovative educational programs to motivate students beyond the classroom, or made a positive impact on a student’s life that inspired them to excel.

Originally from Dillon, Mont., Fisk chose Montana Western because he knew it had a top-rated education department. After graduating with a degree in Social Science Broad-field, he went on to obtain his Master’s Degree in Special Education from Montana State University-Billings.Chris Fisk in article

Fisk notes that the instructors at UMW were vested in his success and when he acquired his first job teaching in Lincoln, Mont. Fisk felt prepared to teach. He now resides in Butte, Mont. where he has taught Social Studies at Butte High School for the last 25 years.

Fisk’s hands on approach to history education has offered students at Butte High School an in depth understanding of Butte and Montana history. Every year he organizes the “cabbage patch experience.”

The cabbage patch was a collection of shacks where Butte’s extreme poor resided around the turn of the 20th century. Fisk takes students there to challenge them to survive the night like Butte’s homeless once did. He gives his students a piece of cardboard and a tarp, making their experience more immersive.

Fisk also offers students the opportunity to learn how to harvest a game animal from start to finish using traditional tools, including obsidian knives. Students are expected to process the animal similar to the way they did 200 years ago.

In another example, during the spring Fisk takes his students to a local ranch where they help brand calves. Students get to wrestle calves, administer vaccines, and learn about agriculture.

“You can read anything you want out of books but when you put it into a hands on type of learning, it gives it relevance and the kids take ownership of their education,” Fisk explained.

Fisk wants his students to understand that history is not just a story out of a book, but rather an experience. He feels very humbled by the award.

“This award doesn’t just go to me. It goes to the community of Butte, it goes to Montana Western who educated me, and it goes to Dillon who raised me,” said Fisk.

You can watch Fisk’s award interview on Youtube.

For more information about Montana Western, please visit the UMW website.