Staring today, February 1, the Montana Office of Public Instruction began taking nominations for teacher of the year. In the past, the selection process was done by the Teacher's Union (MEA-MFT), but things are a bit different this year according to State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen.

"Before, there were three that were picked as finalists, but we are broadening it, because Montana is so vast and so unique, not only between student populations, but also how education is delivered," Arntzen said. "We now have nine regions and each teacher will be celebrated within that region."

Along with the nine geographic regions, is a special category chosen by the Montana Indian Education Association. Arntzen hopes that a broader approach in selecting finalists will help Montana achieve some national recognition.

"We are unique and education should be looking at that uniqueness, not at some status quo: that's not education in my mind, nor do I think that is the future of education," Artnzen said. "We will narrow that field of ten, to one. You know, Montana has never, ever had a national Teacher of the Year, how great would that be, to show Montana's excellence."

Nomination forms can be downloaded from the Office of Public Instruction website and can be submitted any time before May first.