Lewistown teacher wins One Class at a Time award

By Marc Strauss

April 20, 2011 Updated Apr 20, 2011 at 6:39 PM CDT

As a long-time English and speech teacher in Lewistown, Susie Lafary doesn't just talk the talk.

"My wife plans to teach until she's 85 because she enjoys teaching so much," said Susie's husband, Jim Lafary.

"Its not unusual for her to go home at night and spend all the way until 10 o'clock at night grading because she's so concerned about the students."

One of those students is Gage Beekman.

"Its her whole life," said Gage, a junior at Lewistown High School. "She puts a lot of hours and work into it. And you can tell because she gets results from the students."

Susie also directs the school plays in Lewistown High School's Shirley Shannon Auditorium. It needs some improvements and she's been trying to scrape together the money to get them completed. Some of that money arrived Wednesday. When she was handed a One Class At A Time grant check for $1,000 the speech teacher was speechless.

"When I was a little girl I wanted to be an elementary teacher," Susie explained. "Then I went to college and I looked at all of those courses that elementary education majors had to take and I thought this isn't very challenging. So I ended up taking English courses and becoming an English teacher and I really love my work."

Not only is Lafary dedicated to her students but also to the name that hangs above the doors of the old auditorium. Shirley Shannon was a good friend and a former teacher, until two years ago when she lost her battle with cancer.

"We're looking to fix the lighting and the curtains and paint the place and clean the floor and those kinds of things," said Susie.