GREAT FALLS — Friends and students at East Middle School came together this week to honor longtime teacher and coach Ken Maddox, who died in late November due to complications from the coronavirus.
They built a shrine in his old parking spot at East, complete with a basketball hoop, a fence donated by Paradise Fencing and a special tribute saying, “PERMANENTLY RESERVED FOR COACH KEN MADDOX.”
After Maddox’s death on November 22, teachers and other staff couldn’t bring themselves to park in his place, said Brad Barringer, the principal at East.
“It just seemed wrong,” he said. “He definitely made an impact on us that’s going to last, and it’s a small way for us to remember him every day we walk in.”
Maddox worked at East Middle School as a science and English teacher. He was also a well known coach on the Great Falls High School boy's basketball team. He spent nearly two decades at the elementary level in Great Falls Public Schools before moving to East, where he spearheaded an academic intervention program.
At East, he was almost always one of the first teachers to school in the morning, which was what sparked the idea for the tribute. But mostly, it was a way for staff and students to remember what he meant to them.
“If we could have all of our teachers have the character of Ken Maddox, boy, we’re going to be OK,” Barringer said.
As of January 5, there have been 107 coronavirus deaths in Cascade County since the start of the pandemic.