Whitefish honors volunteer, teacher

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The Whitefish Chamber of Commerce has recognized two people for their leadership achievements in volunteering and education.

At a Wednesday luncheon, Chamber member and Realtor Doug Zignego presented the Youth Activities Volunteer of the Year award to Mac McCracken.

Mark McCrady was honored as Educator of the Year.

McCracken is co-owner of the Pin and Cue. Proceeds from the Pin and Brew coffee kiosk, which he also co-operates, benefit The Shepherd's Hand Clinic in Whitefish.

Nominated by Tim Murphy of State Farm Insurance, McCracken was noted for his dedication and effort to create and act as head coach of the Whitefish seventh- and eighth-grade football program he organized in 1999. Running the program requires organizing numerous fundraisers, applying for grants and soliciting donations.

Zignego read a nomination comment about McCracken:

“The Youth Football Program has a made a huge difference and impact in so many youths’ lives over the years. The discipline, direction and mentoring they have received from Mac and other coaches is so valuable.”

McCracken also has coached Little Dribblers basketball and Babe Ruth Baseball. He has volunteered with Rotary, served on the Chamber of Commerce board and helps with meals at Shepherd’s Hand Clinic.

McCrady, director of bands for Whitefish School District was nominated by Nicki Corne of Austin Funeral Homes.

Jason Spring, chief executive officer of North Valley Hospital, presented the Educator of the Year award, saying this about McCrady

“Mark gives 110 percent every day in both the middle school and the high school. He gets there early and often stays late to help kids with their music. He runs the WHS pep band, drum line as well as two jazz ensembles. Through all of his long days, he still has a smile on his face. I think he is an amazing teacher.”

Prior to teaching in Whitefish, McCrady was performing arts director at Stillwater Christian School.  

In 2011, McCrady was included in School, Band & Orchestra magazine’s “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” list. In 2010, he was nominated for Montana Teacher of the Year.

During the 2013-2014 school year, McCrady will serve as state manager and treasurer for the Montana Music Educators Association state conferences.

After the awards were given, Whitefish School District Superintendent Kate Orozco, Whitefish High School Principal Kerry Drown, Whitefish Christian Academy headmaster Todd Kotila and Flathead Valley Community College President Jane Karas gave a presentation on the educational goals, objectives and activities in local schools.

Orozco discussed the set of skills many employers need are also the same skills students need to become college-ready.

Drown highlighted the status of the high school construction project being conducive to 21st century learning. He noted while the groundbreaking is set in 2014, the school is already implementing new teaching practices such as using portable technology devices — such as cell phones — for classroom learning.

“We’re not waiting until we cut the ribbon,” Drown said. “We’re moving forward. We’re preparing kids for their future, not our past.”

Kotila touched upon the need for school choice to break up a public school monopoly and the ability to provide learning that can, in addition to a classical education, openly and regularly discuss religion, morals and values.

“We share a value-based setting — an extension of what’s going on in the home,” Kotila said.   

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or by email at hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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