Diamond surprise for Bijou teacher

       Nancy Bonner has had far from a traditional background as a science teacher, but it's perfect for being on the staff at the Bijou School, she believes.
       Before coming to the Westside alternative high school three years ago, her resume included being a mother, an artist, a construction worker and a teacher for Indian reservation children.
       The latter work, over about five years in two locations on and near the Cheyenne reservation in Montana, “definitely trained me to be here,” said Bonner, who was surprised Jan. 24 with the Colorado Springs Rotary Club's Diamond Award for teaching excellence. “Those were kids in poverty. It was heartbreaking. I fed them breakfast and lunch. One of my kids lived in a stable.”
       The Diamond Award selection begins with a student nomination. Only one teacher a year from any school can be chosen, and a given teacher can only receive it once.
       “It was a fun surprise, and I was humbled by it,” Bonner said. “Every teacher at this school deserves it.”
       Located at 730 N. Walnut St., Bijou is a District 11 high school - allowed to give out its own diplomas - with about 135 students, who are admitted by application.
       Although Bijou kids do not generally face the kind of economic hardship as those on an Indian reservation, Bonner said they often have it tough in terms of medical or family issues or just having difficulty coping with everyday world demands. “A lot of our kids are right-brained artists,” she said. “I am too. That's what I taught in Montana.”
       Other than the Montana assignment, Bonner has been a Colorado resident since moving here from Massachusetts in 1976. Her early years here included 18 years in construction.
       Bonner has found she prefers teaching alternative education. “I tend to gravitate toward kids in need,” she said.

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