Nominated by a student athlete, Anne Huggins is the January CARE Award winner

School had started three hours late that Friday, thanks to light snowfall and freezing temperatures, when Canby Superintendent Trip Goodall paid a visit to Baker Prairie Middle School.

School Principal Jennifer Turner and several teachers stood by as students joked, at Goodall's expense, about Canby's history of closing school in the winter when it was only raining outside.

Goodall laughed at himself and continued the lighthearted exchange with students as he began to describe why he was there: to honor a staff member who goes above and beyond ordinary duties.

When he uttered the name "Anne Huggins" as January's recipient of the Canby Area Recognition of Excellence Award, her jaw dropped in genuine shock that Goodall was there for her. Then the shock melted into happy tears.

Huggins has long served as an English language arts teacher and also coaches cross country along with her brother. In his comments, Goodall credited Huggins with revitalizing the middle school cross country program.

Every month, Canby Kiwanis and Canby School District honor a district staff member like Huggins with this CARE Award. Canby Kiwanis established it to provide opportunities to recognize individual teachers, counselors, coaches and other school staff who make a difference in the lives of others and in the community.

The prospective recipients must be nominated, and the honoree is then decided by a CARE committee made up of members from Kiwanis and the community.

In this case, a student athlete was behind the nomination. It arose from a school ELA assignment, which involved interviewing someone who builds community. The student chose Huggins and later submitted the essay as a nomination for the award.

"I know we are fortunate to have two wonderful, devoted coaches steering us to places far and wide, through parks and on trails, across roads and highways, and over and under bridges," the student said in the nomination. "And even though student athletes grow up, some are still hitting the trail, exploring the wilderness, pumping sweaty arms and staying loyal to the sport of running without the supervision of a coach."

PMG PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Trip Goodall introduces Anne Huggins as January's CARE Award winner on Jan. 23.

Following the surprise during the week, Huggins was also honored at the monthly school board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 23.

There, Goodall read portions of the nomination, which included comments Huggins had made in the interview with the student.

"The reason that I like to coach cross country is because I get to see kids in a different light, and they get to see me in a different light; and I just like to see them grow and become better people," Huggins had said in the student interview.

As January's recipient, Huggins received a plaque and a gift basket from local businesses.

PMG PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Anne Huggins shows off her plaque as honoree of the monthly CARE Award.

Local sponsors of the CARE Award include Canby Kiwanis, Hot Rod Dreamworks, State Farm Insurance-Matt Olsen, Columbia Bank, DirectLink, The Wild Hare, Backstop Bar & Grill, Rice Time, Gwynn's Coffeehouse, Swan Island Dahlias, Puddin' River Chocolates and Glenmore Farms.

Following the presentation, the teacher side of Huggins came out as she praised the student for their outstanding, college-level essay. She even passed out copies to the entire school board, having received permission from the student to do so.

PMG PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Anne Huggins passes out copies of the student athlete's nomination essay.

To nominate someone like Huggins, who you believe is deserving of the CARE Award, nomination forms can be found on the district's website here.

Kristen Wohlers
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