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'Amazingly accomplished educator' honored in West Fargo

Eighth grade Language Arts teacher Andrea Noonan, left, hugs her grandmother, Pat Noonan, after receiving the West Fargo Teacher of the Year award at Cheney Middle School last Wednesday. Carrie Snyder / Forum Communications Co.

Lured under the guise of a "secret meeting" in the Cheney Middle School theater, teachers filed in early Thursday morning before classes to get it over with as quickly as possible.

It was only a few short hours until a holiday weekend, after all.

But the jig may have been up after seeing the myriad of television news crews and a bouquet of flowers on stage.

In actuality, it was a very special morning in the West Fargo School District, as officials announced the 2012-13 teacher of the year, Andrea Noonan.

Nominated by multiple persons, Noonan, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Cheney, fought back tears as she accepted the bouquet and a plaque from Superintendent David Flowers.

"Some of the nominators said they almost hesitated because she isn't as experiences as past Teacher of the Year winners," Flowers said. "But she has become an amazingly accomplished educator in a short period of time."

Noonan began her career in 2005 at West Fargo High School before transferring to Cheney a year later. Besides teaching, Noonan also coaches, is as an AdvancEd co-chair, and helps to maintain West Fargo's district accreditation.

"I'm a little overwhelmed, especially seeing the list of former teachers of the year," Noonan said. "It's' been a tough year this year, and this is such an uplifting and grateful moment."

Also attending the event were several of Noonan's close relatives, including her grandmother, Pat Noonan, whose husband died a couple months ago.

"We've learned we need support when bad and good things happen," Noonan said.

Principal Donald Lennon said it was "a great honor to bring the Teacher of the Year back to Cheney."

Despite "Strategic Plan Review" displayed on the overhead projector, and Lennon's best attempt to reiterate, repeatedly, that the morning meeting was absolutely to talk about said plan, the truth came out in short order.

Still, he promised the audience wouldn't get away that easy.

"We'll postpone the strategic plan talk until another time," he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.

Noonan's colleagues talked about many of her accolades in their nominations. Reading from a list of highlights, Flowers said some of the nominations pointed to Noonan as a lifelong learner with "a contagious passion."

She also is innovative, positive and motivated and self driven.

"It is clear she is a master teacher," Flowers said, again reading blurbs from nomination forms. "She encourages teacher around her to do their best by her example, and is one of the most positive people around."

Noonan will be recognized during a future meeting of the West Fargo School Board.

Before she was carted away by news crews for interviews, Noonan thanked her peers, including Team Tsunami, and fellow Cheney Middle School staff.

"We have a great team of people, and I'm honored you've chosen me to represent our school and district," she said.