Mount Ellis Elementary Teacher Receives National Award

Mechelle Peinado, a teacher at Mount Ellis Elementary School in Bozeman was presented with a national award on May 13. Peinado is among 10 teachers selected this spring by the Alumni Awards Foundation (AAF) to receive a 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award.

The award ceremony was held at 6 p.m. at the Mount Ellis Elementary gymnasium. The award included a medallion and a $2,000 gift sponsored by the Concerned Group in Siloam Springs, Ark.

Peinado has shown excellence through her willingness to modify the curriculum to meet the needs of each individual student.

“Seeing and knowing each student for who they are — not just who I see they can be — means I can serve that child where they are, in ways they specifically need,” Peinado says.

Peinado’s unique ability enables her to work with a diversity of students with varying learning disabilities and challenges with the attention they deserve.

“She has developed comprehensive education plans that meet each child’s unique needs and talents, while engaging a classroom of middle school students to have empathy and zeal to model Christ’s character,” says Ric Peinado, head teacher at Mount Ellis Elementary School.

Instead of focusing on where students may fall short, Mechelle Peinado constantly praises them for their accomplishments. Her helpful attitude is so contagious that encouraging these children soon became a full-class effort.

“The atmosphere of helping each other in her class is so evident,” says Phil Hudema, Montana Conference education superintendent. “It is amazing to watch how all the students work together and help each other.”

Although she has been very successful in molding lessons to fit each child on her own, Peinado furthers her students’ individual learning experiences by using creative methods to get their families involved. She sends texts, shares through a website, posts on a photo blog and creates weekly e-communications to keep parents updated on their child’s progress and growth.

“So many parents have commented to me that there is a teacher who cares for my child and is willing to do whatever it takes to make them successful,” Hudema said. “There is a teacher that doesn’t limit herself to just school matters but cares about the future of my child and their spiritual walk with God. There is a teacher where my child can feel loved and safe.”

As a former attorney who saw how her clients’ painful childhoods damaged their lives, Peinado understands that she is responsible for creating the social and emotional environment she wants for her students and purposefully teaches with enthusiasm and joy.

“Teaching is the most important job that exists,” Peinado says. “I believe this to the core of my being. The importance of teaching doesn’t just lay with the fact that I am educating and preparing children for their temporal futures. The biggest significance of teaching is the opportunity, every single day, to show a captive, impressionable audience Jesus.”

AAF annually selects 10 teachers from the Seventh-day Adventist school systems across North America. The 10 finalists will be celebrated in the upcoming weeks.

In 2011, AAF refocused and created the Renaissance Network, a management group specializing in making Adventist academies across North America successful in every area of operation. AAF’s strategy is to bring training and support for implementing the best practices in business, marketing, youth ministry and education. Learn more about the foundation at

May 22, 2014 / Montana Conference