Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Hannah’s Hope, a legacy

Hannah Johnson-Swanson Capen

This is a belief in hope.  Hope for our teachers. Hope for our students. Hope for the world.  Our future lies in our children.  Our children are entrusted to the care of our teachers to instruct them in the ways of the world.  Teachers have a major impact on our children all of their lives; past, present, and future.


It is a known fact, and unfortunately an accepted fact, that for years teachers have contributed to the purchase of educational supplies that are in short supply with their own personal money.  Add to that, the  countless hours they spend working on lesson plans, grading papers and creating a learning environment. These hours are undocumented and unpaid. The result is a system that leads to burn-out and frustration for our educators and a loss for our children.


A family who suffered a devastating loss of a child has decided to help these teachers who made such an impact on their child. “We desire to make it less stressful for those that are eager to instruct our children to be better citizens of our school, community, state, country, and beyond,” said Diane Johnson Cottrell, mother of Hannah Johnson-Swanson Capen.


Hannah died in a traffic accident on February 22, 2014. She was 23 years old but had already had an impact on her world. She graduated from Victor High School in 2009 and then went on to earn two bachelors degrees from the University of Montana.


Hannah attended Victor schools from kindergarten through her senior year where she was valedictorian. Her mother said that the dedication of the teachers throughout Hannah’s years at Victor made a tremendous difference for Hannah. Due to the dedication of the teachers, Hannah experienced great academic and sports successes.


After graduation, Hannah went on to the University of Montana. “Quiet strength” and “enthusiastic determination” were the words her mother used to describe Hannah’s time at UM. She graduated with a double major in Elementary and English Education and was hired as a 4th grade teacher at Hellgate Elementary in Missoula, as well as a Hellgate Middle School volleyball coach.


The night Hannah was in the traffic accident, she was son her way back to Victor to help with a youth fundraiser.


“Instead of asking why you left, now I ask, what beauty will I create in the space you no longer occupy?”  Rudy Francisco.


Johnson-Cottrell  said,  “Our intent is to humbly thank teachers that have and still do support our children with encouragement, discipline, praise and unselfish devotion to their students’ development.”


They have set up a fund which is open to the public, alumni, parents, family and friends of Hannah. The funds raised will be matched by every dollar donated up to $250 a year, by Hannah’s family. The funds donated will be distributed to the teacher or teachers to be used towards the cost of supplies used to creatively inspire their students to be responsible stewards by motivation and encouragement through mental and physical activities. The winner or winners will be named on June 1 which is “Say Something Nice Day, International children’s Day, and Dar Day (dare to do something different.)


Donations may be made at any Farmers State Bank branch with the notation “Hannah’s Hope Fund” on the memo line, or mailed to Victor Schools Foundation, PO Box 1047, Victor MT 59875.  Please make checks payable to: Victor School Foundation Hannah’s Hope Fund. If Tax Exemption Receipt is required please enclose name and mailing address information with your donation.

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