Top Teacher, Alvirne Students Celebrate On Mt. Washington as Hurricane Approaches

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Paula Tracy photo

NH Teacher of the Year Col. Christian Cheetham (in orange jacket) poses for a photo with students atop Mount Washington on Friday.

Above, Teacher of the Year Christian Cheetham Paula Tracy photo


THOMPSON AND MESERVE’S PURCHASE – As Hurricane Lee began bearing down Friday and its sizeable wind field spread up to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington Friday, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut was at the Mount Washington Observatory with the 2023 NH Teacher of the Year and about 27 of his students.

Former Air Force Col. Christian Cheetham, a teacher at Alvirne High School in Hudson, was named to the honor and he accepted it on top of the rock pile with his students there to celebrate.

The field trip, by way of the Cog Railway to the summit, is one that Cheetham will long remember.
It was a day at the Northeast’s highest peak when real weather was inbound. Wind speed was expected to exceed 120 miles per hour at the summit within the next 24 hours.

Negotiating down through a field of yellow-lichened granite, after posing for a photo with him at the summit, student Jim Mank spoke about Cheetham.

“Colonel Cheetham is the best teacher I’ve ever had,” Mank said, never doubting that he would be chosen Teacher of the Year.

Selected from a pool of 44 nominees, Cheetham was chosen for his exceptional teaching skills and profound dedication to his students. He will now serve as an ambassador for all of the teachers throughout the state and will be in the running for the National Teacher of the Year.

Col. Cheetham has taught at Alvirne High School and Wilbur H. Palmer Career and Technical Education Center for about seven years, and currently oversees the Air Force Junior ROTC elective course program for grades 9-12.

“Colonel Cheetham has shown exemplary leadership abilities throughout his time as a teacher, and his commitment to excellence in education is obvious to those students who have had the pleasure of sitting in his classroom,” said Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, who was also able to get out of the office to see the weather changing at the summit first-hand.

Edelblut said there was consideration about having all the students hike up but with the weather changing rapidly, the Cog was a better call.

This time last year, Edleblut attended the Governor and Executive Council meeting on the summit in September by hiking up with members of the top staff at the Department of Education.

He praised Cheetham because “he continues to teach students that today’s world is full of opportunities, and we commend his passion for collaborative teaching, taking on new initiatives and recognizing that all students are worthy.”

In a statement announcing the selection, Principal Steve Beals of Alvirne High, described Cheetham as a man with integrity, leadership and exceptional communication skills who has been an integral part of the school and community.

“Chris is a wonderful leader with an infectious ability to share stories about his distinguished military career, support colleagues in and out of school, and support, through multiple service activities, our local American Legion and VFW organizations,” said Beals.

In his application essay, Cheetham wrote, “I think kids and adults are desperate for real experiences. Technology is robbing us of our humanity and I strive every day to bring humanity back … In my opinion, our students are desperate for real mentoring relationships.”

He went on to state that his true motivation is to teach students how to live their lives in ways that truly make them happy.

Valerie Sununu, New Hampshire’s First Lady and member of the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee, previously congratulated all of the finalists and Colonel Cheetham, explaining New Hampshire is lucky to share and celebrate his journey and vision for education.
“The New Hampshire Teacher of the Year (program) is a precious space where we elevate the profession of educator and shine a light on the individuals who are guiding and inspiring our most valuable asset — our students, our future,” said Sununu. 

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