The Potluck

11 educators named Minnesota Teacher of the Year finalists

By: - April 11, 2022 1:01 pm

A teacher readies her classroom. Photo by Dave Einsel/Getty Images.

Eleven educators from across Minnesota were named finalists for the state’s Teacher of the Year award Monday.

The award is given each year by Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers union. This year’s finalists were selected from a group of 77 nominees. Teachers with at least five years of experience who work at public or private pre-K-12th grade schools, adult education programs or family education programs can be nominated for the title.

A panel of 22 education, business, government and nonprofit leaders will interview the finalists and vote for the Teacher of the Year on April 30. Natalia Benjamin, the 2021 Teacher of the Year and first Latina to receive the award, will announce the winner during a banquet on May 1. 

Four Minnesota teachers have gone on to win National Teacher of the Year.

This year’s finalists are:

  • Edward Barlow, a 6th-8th grade music teacher at Anwatin Middle School in Minneapolis Public Schools.
  • Younna Eiden-Giel, an 11th and 12th grade social studies teacher at Park High School in South Washington County Schools.
  • Jon Fila, a 9th-12th grade English teacher at Northern Star Online in Intermediate District 287.
  • Kendall Gonzalez, a kindergarten teacher at Matoska International School in White Bear Lake Area Schools.
  • Paul Houck, a 9th-12th grade English and math teacher at Southwest Metro High School in Southwest Metro Intermediate District 288.
  • Bradley Hubred, a 5th and 6th grade science teacher for Moose Lake Community Schools.
  • Erin Karlgaard, a third grade teacher at Lowell Elementary School in Brainerd Public Schools.
  • Sarah Lancaster, a first grade teacher at Onamia Elementary School in Onamia Public Schools.
  • Rachel Volkmann, a fifth grade teacher at Gatewood Elementary in Hopkins Public Schools.
  • Andrea Welvaert, a 6th-8th grade special education teacher at Cottage Grove Middle School in South Washington County Schools.
  • Eric Zuccola, a 9th-12th grade English teacher at Robbinsdale Cooper High School in Robbinsdale Area Public Schools.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.