VFW awards Eric Hansen a statewide honor


January 17, 2019

Eric Hansen, an educator working at Wahkiakum School District, was named Teacher of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Washington on Saturday in Yakima. His wife, Beth, as well as members of the local VFW were on hand to see Hansen receive the honor. Picture courtesy of Bob Roche.

On Saturday, Eric Hansen, a teacher at John C. Thomas Middle School in Cathlamet, received the Teacher of the Year Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Washington at the 71st annual Youth Program Awards Banquet in Yakima.

There are three categories for the teaching award: grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. As the state winner for middle school teachers, Hansen is now being considered for a national award. The national award winner will be announced in the next couple months, according to former post commander Bob Roche.

The award was created by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to "identify and recognize America's best educators who instill a sense of national pride in students."

Hansen was first nominated by Mike Thomas, a fellow teacher and member of the local VFW Post 5297. Hansen went on to win at the district level before being selected as the state recipient.

Hansen "always makes time in his extremely full schedule each year to plan and execute lessons that engage his students in activities that promote patriotism, and make them see and feel what it means to be good citizens of the United States," Thomas wrote in his nomination letter.

Every year, Hansen takes students to Greenwood Cemetery the Thursday before Memorial Day to place flags on veteran's graves. Hansen has also led student tours to Washington DC, Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, and Gettysburg. He takes classes to the state capital and to watch trials in the Wahkiakum County Courthouse.

Principal Stephanie Leitz wrote that Hansen "creates a culture that values learning and makes students hungry to learn more about the history of our country and proud to be Americans."

Hansen has been teaching at Wahkiakum School District for over 25 years and has been coaching the Wahkiakum High School football team since 2002.


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