Teacher Profiles

Profile: Dorothea M. Susag

Dorothea M. Susag (Dottie)

I grew up in suburban Chicago and graduated from Maine Township High School in the same class as Harrison Ford. I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and graduated from Montana State University with a B.A. in English and Speech Education. In 1992-93, I received the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship for Montana and have since earned an MA in English (Literature) and an MA in English (Teaching) from the University of Montana. I have authored several published essays and the 1998 NCTE publication, Roots and Branches: A Resource of Native American Literature Themes, Lessons, and Bibliographies. Although I retired from teaching full-time, I’m pleased to be teaching Junior English at Simms while I also work as an independent consultant in 6-Trait Writing Assessment, Community-Based Heritage Education, and K-12 Native American Literature Education. I have received local and state Teacher of the Year awards from the Dufresne Association, the Montana Association of Teachers of English Language Arts, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education. I love working with young people and the Sun River Valley Community through the Montana Heritage Project!

I am married to Sylvan Susag, a retired school counselor, Vo Ag teacher, and farmer. We have three children and four grandchildren. Living in rural Fairfield with two horses and two cats, I enjoy waking up to the eastern sunrise, reading, playing the piano, working out, knitting (when I get to it), and watching movies.

Posted by Dottie Susag on 02/07 at 04:28 PM
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2005 Montana Heritage Project

Profile of Jeff Gruber

I was born at Libby, Montana in 1966 to Bob and Joan Gruber.  I attended school in Libby as well graduating in the spring of 1984.  In the fall of 1984 I enrolled at Western Montana College in Dillon and graduated in the spring of 1989 with a B.S. in Secondary Education.  I majored in Social Science because of my life-long interest in past events.

My first teaching job started in the fall of 1989 in the small town of Judith Gap, Montana where the entire high school population of 28 witnessed my early attempts of making the past relevant in today’s world.  It was in Judith Gap that I met my wife, Doreen and we were married in June of the following year.  We taught there for another two years and then decided that we would like to try and secure jobs in a new locale and landed back at my hometown in Libby. 

For the past twelve years I have taught at Libby High School.  I presently teach World Geography and Montana History as well as Heritage Education.  It is my Heritage Education classes that are the most rewarding but also the most challenging.  My goal for the students in Heritage Education is to use their community as a source of scholastic inquiry.

My interests include all outdoor activities, reading, trying to make sense of local, national, and international events, and trying to be a good husband and father for my lovely wife and daughter Emma.

Posted by Jeff Gruber on 02/07 at 04:28 PM
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2005 Montana Heritage Project

Corvallis Teacher Reveals All

I was raised the son of peasant farming parents in the Bitterroot.  They wished something better so I aspired to become a poor peasant teacher in the Bitterroot.  They sold the farm for a fortune and I’m still a peasant teacher.  Ironic?  We do have two things in common that have shaped me:  One, they drilled into me a sense of place; Two, they are still my parents and often order me around.  When I turn 40 in the near future I’m not going to let them get away with it any longer.

I grew up in the same farmhouse in Hamilton, MT that my father did – even slept in the same bedroom he did as a kid.  We had a television, radio, running water, electricity, a record player that was later replaced with an 8 Track Tape player, and milk that came from a cow and not a grocery case.  What we didn’t have was a computer, internet, Xbox, VCR, DVD, IPod, or digital cable.  I have all those things now.  They replaced open space, shooting a .22 rifle, driving a tractor, bucking bales, feeding cows, and changing sprinkler pipes.  I’m not too nostalgic but I always seem to pause at re-runs of Hee Haw or Lawrence Welk when I’m surfing channels and can’t seem to figure out why?  My son wonders the same thing.

My ticket “up? had to be through education.  I attended the University of Montana, realized the most powerful influences in my life were teachers, studied madly to become one and was rewarded with a job as a wilderness ranger for the United States Forest Service.  Not exactly the classroom I was looking for.  Granted, I learned many interesting skills, one of which was blowing things up with dynamite, but hardly a good exercise of my teaching degree.  This was followed by nearly three years where I sold log homes on the retail market.  Then in one screeching moment, I was teaching in a classroom at Corvallis High School.  It is a long story of how this came to pass but I often reflect upon what de Gaulle once said along the lines of graveyards being full of indispensable people.

That was 13 years ago.  Some of my happiest and most sad moments have occurred within those brick walls.  To describe that feeling can be summed up by saying that I have been “involved? with my school and community.  There has never been a day that it did not give me back just as much as I gave it.  To be honest it is a job I would do for free – if I won the lottery tomorrow.  After all, I do have a lifestyle to which I have grown accustomed.  I like what I do but I always remember that students and their parents are consumers.  They want the best for the least amount.  I want the best no matter the cost.  The middle ground is where we meet on a daily basis never forgetting that I sat in one of those desks for a long time to get to where I am at today.

Posted by Phil Leonardi on 02/07 at 04:27 PM
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2005 Montana Heritage Project
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