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Passing the torch

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | May 22, 2020 1:15 AM

Margo Swanson named Cd’A Teacher of the Year

COEUR d’ALENE —Fanfare, fire trucks, sparklers, sirens and a whole lot of love came Margo Swanson's way on Thursday during a surprise announcement that she is Coeur d'Alene School District's Teacher of the Year.

Friends and colleagues secretly gathered around the corner from her house to decorate their vehicles and prepare a lively parade to celebrate the eighth-grade English language arts teacher.

"She is so deserving, beyond deserving,” seventh-grade ELA teacher Jeni Nelson said gleefully as she and her daughter, Charlotte, taped a banner to her car. "I’m so excited for her."

The cacophonous convoy rounded the corner as Swanson stood at the end of her driveway, lured out by loved ones who she knew were up to something. Coeur d'Alene police and fire vehicles contributed blaring sirens to the chorus of horns and cheers.

Swanson was in disbelief as car after car went by. She sometimes put her hands to her face or waved energetically, laughing when one of her fans sprayed her with Silly String.

"I had no idea they would be here,” she said, all smiles. “It does not surprise me though because Lakes is the best school to work at ever, and the way people support each other makes it really awesome to be a teacher.”

After the procession, everyone gathered around in the street to perform a special cheer and light sparklers to celebrate. Last year's teacher of the year, Rebekah Comstock — who previously taught at Lakes and earned the District Teacher of the Year Award while teaching there last year — presented Swanson with a ceremonial sparkler to represent a "passing of the torch."

"This girl knows how to teach, and she knows how to engage the students, just from her core. It’s who she is," Comstock said. "She is so good. Some people just have it, you know? And she does."

Swanson's teaching partner Ali Mancha said she and Swanson are constantly in each other's classrooms planning lessons together.

"I look up to her so much," Mancha said. "She gets it done. She does it with flair and encouragement. She’s just amazing.”

Swanson's family was also in attendance to celebrate her accomplishments.

"I’m really proud of her,” said her dad, Jeff Lane, of Sandpoint.

Normally, the Coeur d'Alene Teacher of the Year announcement is made during the district's annual staff awards, but that has been postponed because of the coronavirus.

Swanson will be entered into the Idaho Teacher of the Year competition. The 2021 Teacher of the Year will receive a cash award and speak around Idaho about education. The state winner will serve as Idaho’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

For all the love that came to Swanson from her friends and co-workers, she happily reciprocated.

"They’re the best ever," she said. "Even during a quarantine they want to show their love, so it's just amazing. I have no words."

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Lakes seventh grade English language arts teacher Jeni Nelson tapes a banner to her car Thursday as 4-year-old daughter Charlotte supervises during a surprise drive-by celebration for Margo Swanson, Coeur d'Alene School District's Teacher of the Year. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)

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Lakes Middle School eighth grade English language arts teacher Margo Swanson claps her hands to her face in surprise as a convoy of friends and colleagues drives by her house Thursday to surprise her with the Coeur d'Alene School District's Teacher of the Year award. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)

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Margo Swanson's friends and colleagues celebrate her Teacher of the Year honors during a surprise celebration outside of her Coeur d'Alene home on Thursday. Swanson, far left, is an eighth grade teacher at Lakes Middle School. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)