Pequot Lakes teacher is named Innovator of the Year
Local teachers honored at annual Sourcewell awards event
BRAINERD — More than 50 educators from schools in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties were selected by school administration for outstanding dedication, hard work and leadership.
For their achievements, they were then celebrated as Educators of Excellence at an event held Wednesday, May 3, at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School.
This event recognizes and awards local educators who positively impact students and colleagues. In addition to individual Educators of Excellence awards, leaders, paraprofessionals, a coach, team, support staff and silver lining awards of excellence were named and recognized.
An addition to the program this year was the recognition of the 2023 Innovator of the Year, awarded by the Innovative Schools Project to Pequot Lakes elementary teacher Deanne Trottier.
The event program read: "For 34 years, Deanne has been an educator in South Dakota, Colorado and Minnesota. In 2021, she implemented a new and environmentally focused STEM (E-STEM) program at Eagle View Elementary School. Most of her days are spent providing students with unique, outdoors, hands-on learning experiences."
Educators from the following districts were honored: Brainerd, Cass Lake-Bena, Crosby-Ironton, Freshwater, Little Falls, Menahga, Mid-State, Northland Community, Pequot Lakes, Pierz, Pillager, Pine River-Backus, Royalton, Sebeka, Staples-Motley, Swanville, Upsala, Verndale, Wadena-Deer Creek and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
The Educators of Excellence celebration was broadcast live on Facebook for the general public and is available for viewing on Sourcewell’s Facebook page .
Local Teachers of Excellence included:
- Lisa Miller of Nisswa Elementary School.
Her nomination read, "Lisa is a born leader and lifelong learner who is always pushing herself and those around her to ensure all learners get exactly what they need to progress forward. She is on several district committees, leads the social committee to ensure Nisswa Elementary is filled with joy for all, and — when there is a need or crisis — she is the one to think outside the box and provide support."
- Rachel Gerhartz of Eagle View Elementary School.
Her nomination read: "Rachel is a rockstar kindergarten teacher. She fosters a positive classroom community by greeting students at the door every morning and making positive selftalk and affirmations part of her daily classroom connection meetings. She is committed to providing a rigorous, yet play-based, curriculum and believes in setting high standards for all learners and holding them, and herself, accountable."
- Sherry Pape of Pequot Lakes Middle School.
Her nomination read: "Sherry is an educator who has mastered both the art and science of teaching and is a true asset on campus. With the daily student experience in mind, when you partner competence and compassion in an educator, you have a formula for a great classroom experience for your students. Sherry exemplifies that a successful experience in special education goes beyond classroom instruction."
- Joanna O'Neil of Pequot Lakes High School.
Her nomination read: "Joanna has demonstrated a care for kids and an unwavering support for their academic progress, and she strives to recognize the whole child in her practice. She can be heard chatting up kids in the hallway every day, including many she doesn’t have in class. But she still asks about their weekend, hobbies, or other random topics. She is quick to develop a connection with students, and once she has a name, greets them every day and makes them feel seen."
- Erica Norman of Pine River-Backus Elementary School.
Her nomination read: "Erica has always demonstrated a strong understanding of using data to drive her daily instruction. She differentiates for each individual student in all content areas. Most importantly, she has a deep love for each of her students. Her ability to establish positive relationships with her class and families is outstanding. Students love learning in her classroom each day."
- Katie Verschelde of Pine River-Backus High School.
Her nomination read: "Katie is a teacher who leads quietly by example through her authentic love of learning and a growth mindset. Her innovative leadership and willingness to volunteer to make the best educational experience for all students and staff really set her apart. She cares deeply about the present and future of her school and provides honest and timely feedback to help ensure success in both areas."