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Sen. Max Baucus

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Mr. President, today I recognize Shelly Fagenstrom, an outstanding educator from my home State of Montana. Shelly is the principal of East Middle School in Great Falls and has been recognized by the Montana Association of Secondary School Principals as the Montana Principal of the Year for 2011.

Shelly has taught and served as an administrator in the Great Falls school system for 38 years; all but 2 of those have been at the middle school level. She has been the principal at East Middle School since 2005 and prior to that served for 6 years as the principal at Paris Gibson Middle School. This isn't the first time Shelly has been honored for her dedication to her students--in 2010 she was named Educator of the Year by the Montana Parent Teacher Association.

In nominating her for these awards, teachers, staff, students, and parents have praised Shelly's work to build a respectful environment at East Middle School while creating a personalized learning environment for each student, her ability to collaborate and seek innovative solutions to complex problems. Shelly has also worked to integrate more technology into the curriculum to help prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century economy. Shelly says she loves being in education, ``because of the relationships you build with kids and their families. I love the energy of middle-schoolers, you can't take yourself too seriously with them.''

Shelly is also involved in the Great Falls community volunteering for the United Way and serving in leadership positions at Central Christian Church. This month Shelly will be visiting Washington, DC, with other award-winning principals when they will be recognized for their hard work and achievement in educating and preparing our children for the future, and have the opportunity to share ideas on how to strengthen our education system.

I congratulate Shelly on being named the 2011 Montana Principal of the Year and thank her for her decades of service to the Great Falls school system. Montana has some of the best teachers, principals, and school administrators in the country. I would like to commend all of them for their hard work and dedication in providing young Montanans with a world class education that prepares them for a bright future.