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CANNELTON - Cannelton elementary teacher Joan Goble was surprised twice recently, once during a trip she was afraid she couldn't make, then again at a brief ceremony Tuesday.
Mrs. Goble and her media-club students traveled to California the previous week, Principal Ginger Conrad told youngsters ushered into the lobby of Myers Grade School for the ceremony. "She doesn't even know what's going on," she said, asking them to remain quiet as she went upstairs to urge Goble down.
As Goble descended the stairs ahead of the principal, a smile lit her face. She seemed to realize before being greeted with applause, and before she discovered her husband, Dan, was in the crowd, everyone was gathered on her behalf.
"Today is Joan Goble Day in Cannelton City Schools," Conrad announced.
Conrad explained the teacher was presented a special award at the International Student Media Festival, conducted Oct. 25-27 in Anaheim, Calif. Goble also serves as sponsor for the Cannelton Media Club, which regularly earns excellence-in-student-media awards at the annual festival for research-based Web sites they produce about aspects of their community. The latest award, for a site about the Wyandotte Caves and bats living in them, was announced in the Sept. 10 edition of The News.
Goble expressed concern about taking club members to the media festival after seeing reports about the wildfires in California.
"I am watching the news right now," she wrote in an Oct. 23 e-mail message to The News, "and am worrying because the map they just showed seems to make it look like LA is surrounded by areas that are on fire!"
She and the club members were due to leave through the Louisville, Ky., airport at 6 a.m. two days later, she explained, saying, "I am unsure we should even go. This is unbelievable! So many people are losing their homes (and) half a million are evacuating from their homes."
She was eventually able to contact people who assured her it was safe, and said Tuesday she was glad she could receive her award in person.
Conrad said Goble's media-club work has allowed the tiny Myers Grade School to reach out beyond Cannelton's borders.
"Mrs. Goble has done a lot of work not just with our media club, but connecting the world to us, everywhere," the principal told the gathered students. For that reason, the Bloomington-based Association for Educational Communications and Technology, which sponsors the festival, "chose Mrs. Goble as one of the outstanding leaders in media, and she was given a very prestigious award. We are just so appreciative of the work that you've done, and you deserve to have a day with your name on it, so Oct. 30, 2007, is your day."
"It was a big surprise," Goble told the assembly. "I had absolutely no idea I was even up for any kind of award myself. We were really excited about being there and receiving (the students') award. We had just gotten our award, and the whole thing was just starting to settle down, when the announcer said, "we need you to stick around; we've got two awards to give away," and then he started explaining this award, which I wasn't really aware of."
The announcer had an accent, "so I didn't quite get that that was my name," she said. She remembers thinking, however, "oh, that name sounds similar."
"They called her Joan Gobble," said a parent who made the trip as chaperone.
"That is me!" Goble realized.
Phillip Harris, awards chair for the Association for Educational Communication and Technology, said Goble earned the honor for "demonstrating excellence in message design and production for educational purposes."
Goble deflected credit for the award to others.
"I want to thank my whole school, because if it wasn't for the support that we get and the help and assistance and the love that we get from you guys, none of this would ever be happening," she said. "You're great; you're wonderful; I could never work at any other school."