BELMONT — Belmont Middle School’s report card was already looking pretty good, and it received another high mark yesterday, after fifth-grade teach Keith Noyes was named New Hampshire Middle School Teacher of the Year.
Noyes’ honor was only the latest of several for Belmont Middle School. A year ago, BMS was named a National Blue Ribbon School; next, Principal Aaron Pope was named Middle School Principal of the Year; then the school was given the mantle of 2018 Middle School of the Year.
“It’s been a couple of good years,” said Pope, who nominated Noyes for the teacher honor. Pope said he nominated the 19-year teaching veteran because Noyes makes his students feel comfortable while also holding them to a high standard.
“Keith is such a hard worker. He’s great with kids. He’s engaging, he creates an environment in his classroom that makes kids feel safe and want to learn, to take risks,” Pope said. “He’s rigorous; kids want to meet his expectations because of that environment.”
In Belmont, fifth grade is part of the middle school, and Noyes is part of a team of teachers, each handling a specific subject for the 75 fifth-graders. This year, Noyes is teaching math.
When he was in high school, Noyes wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic. It was his father who suggested teaching.
“I never had an idea 25 years ago I’d come to this incredible moment,” he told the crowd assembled on Wednesday morning, which included the whole school as well as state Department of Education officials and last year’s Middle School Teacher of the Year.
Noyes is a Laconia boy, who lives in his native city along with his wife and four children.
“I love teaching in Belmont. We’re kind of on the cutting edge of education,” Noyes said. He referenced the small size of classes, which, at around 14 students, are significantly smaller than the norm. “That right there shows the value we see in keeping the student-teacher ratio down.”
He said he was “very honored and surprised” to be selected by the committee which, after narrowing down the field of nominees to five, sat in on his class and asked him to write essays on his teaching philosophy. The commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education selects the winner.
“I think we always think that there are people who are more deserving; it’s such an incredible honor,” he said.
Being Teacher of the Year shines a spotlight on Noyes, “and I’m OK with that,” he said, explaining that he enjoys collaborating with other educators to find the best solutions to common problems. “I love the collegiality of that all. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”
Noyes said he loves working with — and learning from — young people. He said people outside of the profession sometimes don’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher.
“I think people need to realize how hard the job is, and taxing. It is fun, we love to keep our kids learning, but it’s not an easy job,” he said.
Some people just point to the summer months, when most teachers don’t have to work, and assume it’s a cushy gig, he said.
“We put our heart and soul into being sure that we are keeping children engaged, keeping kids learning.”
Pope said that the string of laurels that Belmont is collecting might help to drive that point home.
“It’s great for our community. All of our teachers are working so hard to provide a high-quality education for kids in our ever-changing world … It’s really great for our community to see that our schools are working hard and our kids are getting a rigorous education.”