John Trohkimoinen, a social studies teacher at Natrona County High School, is one of 38 educators to receive California Casualty’s National Award for Teaching Excellence.
Trohkimoinen was presented with a $650 check and a certificate at a staff meeting earlier this week. The money will be used at Principal Shannon Harris and Trohkimoinen’s discretion. He will also be recognized at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington D.C. in February.
The gala will be a “star-studded big deal, it’s a large event,” he said. The event draws thousands of supporters — both online and in person. The awarded educators are celebrated through music, performances and more, giving recognition for their work and dedication.
“These outstanding educators are innovators, challengers and global thinkers,” said Harriet Sanford, NEA Foundation president and CEO, in a statement.
Trohkimoinen was nominated by the Wyoming Education Association, the state’s NEA affiliate. Nominees are typically chosen for their dedication to their profession, attention to diversity, professional development and advocacy for fellow educators.
In the earlier months of last year, members of the school’s staff interviewed Trohkimoinen randomly and he “had the feeling something was up.”
“If I had known it was for an award like this, I would have told them to stop,” he said because in his opinion, there are people who are more qualified for the award.
He found out about the win this March and said he feels “extremely flattered that his colleagues think of him so highly.”
He said he always loved history and majored in social studies in college. Unsure what to do for a profession, he became a teacher because of his fondness for the subject and that he “enjoys working with kids.”
He began his teaching career in special education at CY Middle School and then moved to teach social studies at Natrona County High, where he has been there for 30 years.
Teaching at the same school for a long time brings both pros and cons. He said a con is that by teaching in different places, there’s a benefit of bringing new knowledge to the table. On the other hand, there is a “feeling of tradition and belonging, and it is a nice feeling,” he said.