Albert Lea teacher is state finalist

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An Albert Lea teacher is one of 30 semifinalists for Minnesota Teacher of the Year.


Mark Nechanicky, who teaches fourth grade at Lakeview Elementary School, found out Saturday that he was one of the 30 chosen from 108 original candidates.

“I was surprised but excited,” Nechanicky said.

Email newsletter signup

A selection panel will now choose 10 finalists in late March, who would then have to go through an interview process before the winner is chosen and announced May 1.

Nechanicky was chosen as Teacher of the Year in the Albert Lea School District for 2010. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Gustavus Adolphus College and master’s degrees in science and engineering and elementary education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He also has completed most of the courses to receive an English Language Learners endorsement.

He said he filled out a portfolio to be one of the first 108 candidates and is excited to be part of the 30 semifinalists. The portfolio included information about him and letters of recommendation from students, teachers and administration in the district.

“It’s an honor to be picked,” Nechanicky said. “Everyone’s been really nice and encouraging — I’m just representing what everybody tries to do.”

The only other time an Albert Lea teacher was chosen as Minnesota Teacher of the Year was in 1987 when Paul Goodnature won the award.

The Minnesota Teacher of the Year program is organized by Education Minnesota, the largest union of teachers in Minnesota. Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers from public or private schools can be candidates.