Westmont Magazine Famous Teaching
A Westmont alumnus has been inducted into the National Teacher’s Hall of Fame for the first time. George Beyer ’55, one of five teachers rewarded for excellence in 1998, is also the first UCLA alumnus, Montana resident, and psychology teacher to be honored.
George attended Westmont from 1951 to 1954, when he transferred to UCLA for financial reasons. Majoring in English and psychology, he intended to become an English teacher. After graduating he taught at an elementary school in Montana until an English position became available at Flathead High School. Discovering that the school also had an opening in psychology, he switched disciplines.
Psychology soon became the most popular academic elective at Flathead High. George taught high school psychology for 34 years and college-level psychology to high school students for more than 20 years. In addition, he taught English, Advanced Placement English, U.S. history, and world history.
Dr. Willard Harley, one of several Westmont professors who influenced George, first introduced him to psychology. Dr. Monroe’s love for his discipline and his students also set an example. Dr. Hieronymus, “a fantastic teacher,” guided George through history and world cultures.
George has received numerous awards and honors: Most Outstanding and Inspira-tional Teacher (1991, Montana State University); Milken Educator Award (1995); Montana Teacher of the Year (1996); and the J. P. Getty Award (1997).
Beyer and his wife, Frances, set aside $5,000 of the $25,000 prize money from the Milken award to establish an endowed scholarship for Flathead High School students interested in a career in psychology. The Beyers add to the fund each year.
George may have retired, but he hasn’t stopped working. He teaches junior high psychology an hour a week in a rural school and volunteers two mornings a week to help primary students with language skills. He is also writing a book about his teaching strategies that includes anecdotes, methods, and demonstrations.
For 42 years, Beyer’s wife, Frances, has been his best friend and most loving support. Not only are they both teachers, but so are their two children. Their daughter is a Spanish teacher, and their son has taught Spanish, algebra, eighth-grade math, English as a second language, and computer science. Currently he is the technology director for his school district.
The Hall of Fame recognizes and elevates the exceptional qualities possessed by the teachers of yesterday and today and attempts to stimulate, cultivate, and reproduce these same qualities in the teachers of tomorrow. Each year five teachers from the United States are inducted.