eliza thomas portrait
Sep 21, 2022

FVCC Professor Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Eliza Sorte-Thomas, Associate Professor of Education at Flathead Valley Community College, was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Literacy Education award by the Northwest Montana Literacy Council. The award was presented in August during the 47th Annual Back to School Literary Conference, hosted by the Northwest Montana Reading Council.

“I was very surprised,” says Sorte-Thomas. “This award is often given to someone who has retired, so earning this while I am still very active in the middle of my career is a tremendous honor.”

The Lifetime Achievement in Literacy Education award was established to honor the legacy of individuals who have made a noteworthy impact on literacy education over the course of their careers in education. Established in 2009, only eight recipients have been awarded over the past fourteen years.

Michele Paine, principal of Flathead High School, presented the award. In her presentation, Paine described Sorte-Thomas’s contributions to the education field during her teaching career, her work as director of an educational curriculum consortium and her leadership role in the region and at FVCC.

Sorte-Thomas, who is also the FVCC Director of Early Childhood and Social Sciences Division Chair, has been on faculty at FVCC since 2017. She has been teaching for 27 years total. After starting her career locally at West Valley School, she taught in various locations around the world from Bangladesh to Colorado before returning home to Montana.

There were 150 educators in attendance at the conference, several whom are alumni of the FVCC education program and have studied under Sorte-Thomas, which she said made the award even more meaningful.

Sorte-Thomas said she was also amazed that the council worked to have her husband and mother in attendance for the award ceremony, which she says, “Made me cry to see them there as I was honored for my achievements.”

Sorte-Thomas received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Montana in Missoula, a Master of Arts in Multicultural, Bilingual, and ESL education from University of Colorado in Boulder, and will graduate in May 2023 from Judson University in Illinois with her Doctor of Education in Literacy.

The Northwest Montana Reading Council is comprised of a group of current and retired Montana educators from Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Bigfork and multiple partner K-8 schools. The council works to support educators through empowerment and teacher-supported professional development.