Fallon teacher Kieran Kalt practices what she preaches.
The daughter of an Army captain who commanded the local National Guard armory in the 1950s and sister of the current commander of the Nevada Army National Guard, Kalt also wanted to serve her country, a task she accomplished in the 1980s after completing ROTC at the University of Nevada, Reno and receiving her commission as a second lieutenant in the Nevada Army National Guard.
Now, as an educator who promotes both the military and its veterans each year as part of her tribute to the men and women who wear the uniform and for her dedication and devotion to her country, the state Veterans of Foreign Wars named Kalt as its state Teacher of the Year.
“I am just shocked,” Kalt said after the Fallon VFW chapter surprised the Lahontan Elementary School teacher by presenting the award in front of her students. “I have done this (the Veterans Day events) for so many years.”
During her teaching career, Kalt has guided plans with teachers and students to present a program on Veterans Day, whether it’s having students tell of their parents who are serving or have served or having active or retired servicemen and women talk about their lives in the military.
What once began as a small tribute has grown into an annual event. During the current school year, Kalt and her students put together a veterans’ tribute on a wall near the entrance and had both sailors from Naval Air Station Fallon and the Churchill County High School Navy Junior ROTC perform marching drills.
“She has done this for many, many years to support veterans,” said the VFW’s Mike Terry, a retired Navy master chief. “She has partnered with active duty folks at the base and has crafted this tribute for many years.”
Brig. Gen Mike Hanifan of the Nevada Army National Guard said the award is well deserved for his sister.
“She has a soft spot in her heart for people in the military,” he said. “She works hard with her students and the families as well.”
Furthermore, Hanifan said she instills a love for the military and patriotism and has helped former students who want to enlist.
In one of the supporting documents for her Teacher of the Year award, Kalt was recognized for the following:
Plans, organizes and coordinates the school-wide Veterans Day ceremony.
Ensures all CCSD classrooms have U.S. flags.
Collects and prepares care packages to send to military personnel serving overseas.
Promotes a relationship with Naval Air Station Fallon.
Recognize military personnel annually on a bulletin board.
“Ms. Kalt goes above and beyond expectations to teach her classroom students about basic civic obligations to keep our country safe and to hold its purpose high,” wrote retired Navy Cmdr. Dana Endacott in her nomination letter.
Kalt said over the years, she hopes students have felt inspired with the Veterans Day program. She said one former student later served in the 82nd Airborne and another attended the Citadel, a military university in South Carolina. Others have joined the high school’s JROTC program.
“I know they are proud of their country,” she said.
Terry said the VFW is proud to recognize teachers who instill honor for their country.
“As veterans of foreign wars, our main obligation is to care about education and youth and teachers who teach them about American history, flag etiquette and tradition with the military,” Terry said.
Post Cmdr. Frank Joseph said it’s important for the VFW to inform the community about its programs and how it recognizes those who promote patriotism and values.
Jerome Chandler, vice commander of the Fallon VFW post, commended Kalt and said she will attend the state convention in June in Las Vegas to receive her honor. She is now eligible to compete for national VFW Teacher of the Year.
Command Master Chief Robert Boyd attended the ceremony on behalf of NAS Fallon.
“This is the first time I’ve been with the VFW in the community,” Boyd said. “I think this is an awesome program.”
Principal Gregg Malkovich said since the first day of school, she has instilled patriotism in the students and always honors the veterans.
Kalt said she is very passionate of those who don the uniform to serve their country, and she tells her students to be respectful.
“When you see someone in uniform, thank them for their service,” she said.