Minnesota Teacher of the Year

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The Minnesota Teacher of the Year program, now in its 52nd year, is the oldest and most prestigious recognition program in Minnesota to honor excellence in education. The program chooses one teacher to represent Minnesota's thousands of excellent educators.

Abdul Wright, who teaches language arts at Best Academy in Minneapolis, was named 2016 Minnesota Teacher of the Year on May 15, 2016.

Selection process

A selection committee representing Minnesota leaders in education, business and government chooses the Minnesota Teacher of the Year from individuals who are nominated and who then choose to become a candidate.

2016 Teacher of the Year judges:
Marc Berris, attorney with Segal, Roston & Berris
Gina Brandt, Hennepin County judge
Katie Bull, Education Minnesota Student Program
Heather Campbell, St. Olaf College associate professor & director of assessment
Tim Caroline, MSC Online Learning Program director
Sylvia Crannell, K-12 audience development consultant
Mary Pat Cumming, Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals
Tracie Dewberry, Minnesota Parent Teacher Association
Renee Fast, Education Minnesota Student Program
Thomas Gale, Minnesota Alliance for Arts in Education, retired
Becky Gerdes, Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association
Amy Hang, University of Minnesota Law School juris doctor candidate
Lonnie Hartley, Medtronic corporate communications
Amy Hewett-Olatunde, 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year
George Kimball, Minnesota School Boards Association
Laura Kelly Lovdahl, Parents United for Public Schools executive director
Tim Lutz, Minnesota Association of School Administrators
Jennifer Niemi, Minnesota Historical Society, Split Rock Lighthouse
Tom Rademacher, 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year
Jackie Roehl, 2012 Minnesota Teacher of the Year; Minnesota Chapter, National State Teachers of the Year
Gwen Rudney, Division of Education chair at University of Minnesota Morris
Mona Springis-Doss, Board of Directors, United Educators Credit Union
Nancy Walters, teacher quality grants, Intervention for College Attendance, Minnesota Office of Higher Education

The Minnesota Teacher of the Year represents the profession as an advocate for education and spokesperson for teachers. The Minnesota Teacher of the Year makes presentations, meets with policymakers and attends frequent meetings.

Peers, school personnel, parents and students may nominate teachers. Many nominees come from school district-level Teacher of the Year programs throughout the state.

Eligibility 

Nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Teach pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Hold at least a bachelor's degree and a Minnesota teaching license.
  • Have completed at least three full years of teaching by nomination deadline.
  • Intend to teach during the next school year.
  • Minnesota Teachers of the Year serve a 12-month term.

Once nominated, teachers will receive a packet in the mail containing instructions for moving forward in this process. Learn more about how to become a candidate for MN teacher of the year.

For more information, call Kieren Steinhoff at 651-292-4865 or 800-652-9073.

News releases


May 11, 2016: Minneapolis language arts teacher is 2016 Teacher of the Year

April 5, 2016: 11 selected as Teacher of the Year finalists

March 1, 2016: Teacher of the Year candidate field narrowed to 34 semifinalists

Feb. 3, 2016: 115 teachers are candidates for Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Oct. 1, 2015:  Nominations are open for 2016 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

May 3, 2015: St. Paul teacher of English learners named 2015 Teacher of the Year

March 30, 2015: 10 selected as Teacher of the Year finalists

Feb. 24, 2015: Teacher of the Year candidate field narrowed to 30 semifinalists

Feb. 3, 2015: 123 teachers are candidates for Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Oct. 1, 2014: Nominations open Oct. 1 for 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

May 4, 2014: FAIR School English teacher named Teacher of the Year