Albert Lea teacher named semifinalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Published 7:06 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Out of 168 candidates, 40 semifinalists were chosen for this year’s Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Sibley and Lakeview elementary schools media specialist Kristen Seeger said she doesn’t quite understand why she’s on the shortlist.

Kristen Seeger

“You just do what you love every day, and it’s just kind of strange to be recognized for doing your job,” she said.

Lakeview Elementary School Principal Nick Sofio and Sibley Elementary School Principal Diane Schultz offered more rave reviews.

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“(She is) so deserving,” Schultz said. “(You) couldn’t ask for a better educator. My gosh, she gives, gives, gives and always has the best interest of kids at heart.”

Seeger was named the Albert Lea Area Schools 2018 Teacher of the Year in March 2018. Her nomination for the 55th Minnesota Teacher of the Year was one of the third largest group of candidates in the award’s history.

“I’m pretty overwhelmed,” Seeger said.

Seeger manages both of the libraries at Sibley and Lakeview, overseeing the collection and clerks who work there. She also teaches media literacy lessons to approximately 800 students, she said, which include lessons on library skills, digital citizenship and research. Currently, the students are focusing on technology integration: how to use Chromebooks, iPads and online resources in the classroom with their teachers. Seeger also works with robotics and coding.

“It’s really a very wide scope of things that we do,” she said.

Seeger was also recognized as the Rochester Area Math Science Partnership Outstanding Educator in 2017.

“I’ve always been interested in technology and felt pretty savvy,” Seeger said.

But as a fourth-grade teacher for several years, it was frustration with the pressure of standardized testing that made her look to a different position within teaching. She found it as a media specialist.

“It’s just kind of been a position that has re-sparked my love for teaching,” she said.

Sofio said Seeger does a “fantastic” job of making real-life skills applicable for students.

“She’s very creative in her ways of connecting kids to learning and getting them to really find that learning within themselves and push themselves to do better,” he said.

He said it is good to see her recognized for what she has provided, not only to children at the school, but also family and staff with support materials and resources. She is passionate about children in both her schools and throughout the district.

“We’re very thrilled for her,” he said. “It’s much deserved, and we’re honored to have her in Albert Lea.”

Seeger said she is honored to represent the district and the work her colleagues are doing with students.

“I think every teacher comes to work with the desire to do their best and help kids, to help their colleagues,” she said. “… You just come and you do your job.”

Out of the 40 semifinalists, approximately 10 finalists will be selected by a panel. The 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be announced May 5.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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