For the first time in what members hope will become a long-standing event, the Masonic Lodge of Craig awarded Roger Spears of Moffat County High School (MCHS) the Masonic Educator of the Year Award.
Spears was nominated by fellow faculty members at MCHS and received his award during a ceremony held in front of the MCHS student body earlier this month.
"I am real honored to have been selected for this award," Spears said. "To be honored is a great benefit of being a teacher."
Spears complimented his colleagues as part of the award.
"I work with some of the best students and staff in the state," Spears said.
The Masonic Educator of the Year Award recognized Spears for his achievements in education.
"Masonic organizations nationwide have adopted public education as one of their main projects," Yampa Lodge 88 Worshipful Master Ken Fleming said.
From this the seed the Masonic Educator of the Year Award was planted.
In the eyes of Spears, positions in the field of education depend on more than books.
"I really view my job as being fun. If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't be doing it," Spears said. He also incorporates hands-on work into his daily teaching methods.
"Education should go beyond the four walls of the classroom," he said. "The world is the greatest classroom of all."
Spears also takes time in his classes to discuss current events. When there is an earthquake, volcano, hurricane or anything relevant to class topics, a discussion will be held within Spears' classroom.
The Mason philosophy toward public education continues with the Masonic Scholarship given yearly to high school seniors. Colorado is divided into four sections and one student is selected from each region to receive the scholarship. Winning students receive $20,000, or $5,000 per year. Along with the money, a Mason is "adopted" by the student who reviews the work and progress of the student. If the student is having trouble, the mentor will attempt to make the necessary changes for the well-being of the student.
"This is a real nice thing they do," Spears said. "It is one way kids can get through college."
Spears has seen the benefits first hand of the Mason scholarship as past students of his have received the scholarship. He believes it is important that students are able to apply for available scholarships and his classroom contains a bulletin board and CD-ROMs containing scholarship information and applications.
The Mason scholarship program has worked well, according to Fleming, who said the scholarship recipients have a college graduation rate of more than 90 percent.
In the past four years, students from Craig, Meeker and Routt County have received the honor.
Along with the scholarship, Masons in Craig also reward the student who they feel has improved the most with a plaque.
"We feel the best way to have a free and strong society is to have a well-educated mass," Fleming said.
Spears attended college at Western State in Gunnison and graduated with a geology degree, attended the University of Colorado and obtained his teaching certificate and is taking classes toward a master's degree from Leslie College in Massachusetts.
He has been teaching in Moffat County for five years.
Beliefs of a Mason run deep and many times the work of Masons goes unnoticed.
"We don't toot our own horn," Fleming said. "We just go on with our business and try to do things that will make a difference."
The first step in becoming part of the Shriners organization is becoming a Mason. Shriners donate more than $400 million each year, with much of the money going toward construction of children's hospitals.
Yampa Lodge 88 has been in Craig for almost 109 years, making it one of the oldest organizations in the area. There are about 70 Masons in Yampa Lodge 88.