Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Brittney Montgomery, star of Storytime with Mrs. Montgomery. Brittney has been reading books live on SweetwaterNOW’s Facebook page every morning at 10 am since the COVID-19 Coronavirus forced local schools to close. Brittney is a dedicated and compassionate first grade teacher at Harrison Elementary School in Green River.
When school moved to online learning, Brittney thought it was important to find a way to connect with not only her own students, but all kids throughout the community. She started reading online, and now, as of Saturday, May 30, she’s read over 59 books to families throughout the community!
Brittney, why did you decide to start reading books online?
The decision to read online was my way of answering the question, “How can I help?” When schools, businesses, buildings, restaurants, etc. started closing, I felt helpless. I knew there had to be something I could do to help, from home. I hoped reading online would give kids something to look forward to and parents a moment of quiet during a very chaotic time.
How has the experience been reading to kids online every morning?
I LOVE it! This experience has blessed me in so many ways. I have been able to reconnect with students from the past, stay connected with current students, and even meet and connect with tons of new children in our community and in other communities as well!
Why did you decide to go into teaching?
I decided to go into teaching to help students who are like me. Education was not easy for me and I spent a lot of time in trouble. I am not someone who is able to sit still, stay on one task at a time, not blurt what comes to my mind, and I need multiple opportunities and multiple modalities to learn new content. I was not the “ideal” student for teachers. I knew there were and are many out there just like me and this gave me hope that I could change a child’s perspective on education.
What do you enjoy about your job?
There are so many things I enjoy about teaching. First and foremost, I enjoy the kids! They teach me something new every single day and I am grateful for that. I love being able to see the “light bulb” moments. (When something that was challenging suddenly makes sense.) I enjoy the cooperative and collaborative community the school provides. When you work in a school, the building becomes a “school family” which is such a gift. I enjoy that every day brings something new and different and that I am still learning daily.
How did you end up in Green River?
I was born and raised in California and when talk of college came up in high school, I knew I wanted to make a big change. I had planned to go to the University of Nebraska. (Go Big Red!) While on a college road trip to Nebraska with my dad, we happened to drive through a town called Laramie, and stumbled across the University of Wyoming. I LOVED the campus. I was going to be moving VERY far away and I didn’t have a single person I knew anywhere near, and no car. The campus had everything I would need to start my new life independently.
I enrolled in education courses and ended up being placed in Green River for student teaching. I had NO idea where Green River was, my only exposure to Wyoming at this point was Laramie and Cheyenne. After student teaching I again wanted to return to Nebraska. I had a contract ready to sign for a teaching position in Lincoln. However, some friends and some wonderful educators convinced me to interview for a position in Sweetwater County School District No. 2 and after the interview I was offered a kindergarten position.
I was only going to stay a few years to save some money up and maybe venture to a bigger town. My first year teaching kindergarten, I had a student named Hayley, and said student had an uncle named Nick. Hayley’s mother (Tristin Francis) and grandmother (Christine Montgomery) convinced her uncle to have a birthday lunch with her. That was how I met my husband, Nick Montgomery. The rest is history. In fact, I have almost lived in Wyoming longer than I lived in California.
What is something unique about you?
Something unique about me is that I have been to all 50 states and many countries!
What do you appreciate most about our community?
There is nothing like our community. The people are thoughtful, caring, and really are willing to lend a hand in any circumstance. I love that even though I came to Green River as an outsider, I felt connected and welcomed immediately. The community reaches out in so many ways to support one another. I look at the programs and opportunities we have here in our community, and I am thankful my children are growing up here.
What are your some of your hobbies?
I enjoy reading (for fun and for learning), crafting, camping, singing, and spending time with family.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Be the person you needed when you were little.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
Currently… my house. We love visiting and camping at the Flaming Gorge, taking the Wild Horse loop, Flaming Gorge Days, The Fair in Rock Springs, we love walking the green belt in green river, and exploring the surroundings.
What would you sing at karaoke night?
I would sing Crazy by Patsy Cline. She is my favorite singer and I have loved the song since the first time I heard it.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
My proudest accomplishment was graduating with my Master’s Degree in Education.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Zooey Daschanel because she has a quirky personality like I do and she enjoys music.
Why do you choose to continue living in Wyoming?
I love living in Wyoming, its wide open and family focused. The people are kind and there is literally beauty all around us. My kids can experience nature in ways I never could in California. I enjoy that there is no traffic here! I feel like Wyoming is a place where you really get to LIVE life. It’s hard to put into words how lucky we are to be living here.
I believe Chris Ledoux said it best in the song, Western Skies:
“But if they ever saw a sunrise on a mountain mornin’
Watched those cotton candy clouds roll by
They’d know why I live beneath these western skies
I got peace of mind and elbow room I love the smell of sage in bloom
Catch a rainbow on my fishin’ line
We got county fairs and rodeos, ain’t a better place for my kids to grow
Just turn ’em loose in the western summer time
And if you ever held your woman on a summer’s evening
While the prairie moon was blazin’ in her eyes
You’d know why I live beneath these western skies.”