Albert Lea 2018 Teacher of the Year announced

Published 6:04 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2018

‘Everything she does is for the kids’



After her fourth time as a finalist for the award, Sibley and Lakeview Elementary School media specialist Kristen Seeger was named the Albert Lea district Teacher of the Year on Wednesday afternoon.

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“I’m so incredibly lucky to do what I do every single day,” Seeger said when she accepted the award. “I love my job … There’s nothing better.”

Seeger was one of seven finalists for the award out of a list of 67 nominations.

“We all know the real winners are all of the students who have had and still have some of the great teachers that we have here working in Albert Lea,” said Margo Wayne, the 2016 district Teacher of the Year.

At the ceremony, school board chairman Ken Petersen asked attending teachers and guests to visualize a pool of water, and a drop of water creating a ripple in that pool.

Margo Wayne, the 2016 Albert Lea district Teacher of the Year, throws toys — in honor of the award name — to the finalists for 2018 Teacher of the Year. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

“For me, it’s kind of like looking at the job that you do each day with our students,” Petersen said. “You provide that drop that creates that ripple effect that really affects our students, where they are in the future, where they are with their families and where they are in life as well as it affects our community and world,” Petersen said.

Albert Lea Area Schools Superintendent Mike Funk spoke of the importance of the “three-legged stool” of education, made up of teachers, students and parents. Teachers, Funk said, are the ones who bring it all together.

“Congratulations to all of our finalists, and thanks to all of you for making a difference in the lives of our students,” Funk said.

Southwest Middle School English teacher Laura Wangen and 2017 Teacher of the Year Jacque Sorensen also spoke at the assembly. Sorensen said teacher connections with students are what impact, inspire and open up student minds.

Seeger is a member of the Minnesota Coding in the Classroom Leadership Advisory Council, a Building Technology Integration coach at Sibley and a Gobble Wobble planning committee member. In 2017, she was named the Rochester Area Math Science Partnership Outstanding Educator.

Kristen Seeger is congratulated by a friend after winning 2018 Teacher of the Year for Albert Lea. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Seeger was joined at the reception by her husband, Dirk Seeger, her children and other family members. Dirk Seeger said he was happy for his wife, proud of her and not surprised to see her recognized.

“It’s who she is,” Dirk Seeger said. “Everything she does is for the kids.”

But according to Kristen Seeger, she is just one of many teachers who works hard for their students.

“I just feel like everyone should be recognized as Teacher of the Year,” she said. “Everybody pours their heart and soul into their job every day and we all need to be recognized for the things that we do with our kids,” she said.

Seeger thanked her parents, grandparents, husband, children, friends, colleagues, mentors and former teachers. She was presented with a bell from the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce and $500 from Vern Eide Chevrolet.

This year’s seven finalists for Teacher of the Year were Seeger, Albert Lea High School special education teacher Steve Alford, Area Learning Center special education teacher Wendy Bidne, Albert Lea High School and Area Learning Center school social worker Jenni Braaten, Lakeview Elementary School second-grade teacher Lisa Haney, Southwest Middle School sixth-grade math teacher Robin Hundley and Hawthorne Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Jenna Miller.

Southwest Middle School English teacher Laura Wangen speaks during Wednesday’s Teacher of the Year ceremony at Albert Lea High School. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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