The Minnesota Teacher of the Year program has recognized excellence in teaching in Minnesota for 57 years. The program selects one teacher to represent the state’s thousands of excellent educators. In 2021, Natalia Benjamin was selected as the Minnesota Teacher of the Year from a group of 75 educators.

  • The Teacher of the Year and finalists speak to education organizations, community groups, students, legislators and media.
  • Eligible candidates include pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, ECFE and ABE teachers from public or private schools. Candidates must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and a license to teach in Minnesota; have taught at least five years; and intend to continue teaching. Colleagues, students, parents or anyone else may nominate a teacher.
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  • To enter the state program, nominees submit an entry portfolio, which includes their teaching philosophy, professional accomplishments and letters of recommendation. This year, 134 educators submitted portfolios.
     
  • A panel of 20 to 25 community leaders selects honorees from the portfolios, choosing semifinalists and then finalists. The Minnesota Teacher of the Year is selected from a group of 10-12 finalists.
     
  • Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education will nominate the 2021 Minnesota Teacher of the Year for the National Teacher of the Year program. The national program is presented by the ING Foundation, and is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers.
     
  • The current Minnesota Teacher of the Year is Natalia Benjamin, an English language and ethnic studies teacher in the Rochester School District.
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  • Four Minnesotans have become National Teacher of the Year – Mary Beth Blegen, Worthington, 1996; Guy Doud, Brainerd, 1986; Robert Heyer, Mounds View, 1975; and Roger Tenney, Owatonna, 1966.
  • The program is organized and underwritten by Education Minnesota and receives program and award support from Education Minnesota ESI, Educators Lifetime Solutions, EFS Advisors, the Harvard Club of Minnesota Foundation, Radisson Blu Mall of America, SMART Technologies and United Educators Credit Union.