2009 WEM Educator Award Brunch

Six Outstanding Minnesota Educators Honored

On Oct. 17, six educators from Minnesota each received an unrestricted $10,000 award from the WEM Foundation at the 11th Annual WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Brunch held at the Oak Ridge Conference Center in Chaska.

Teachersand academic coaches from Laporte, Win-E-Mac, Murray County Central, InverGroveHeights and Tracy Area school districts were recognized for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to student achievement. In addition to the presentation of awards, guest speaker Peter C. Hutchinson, President of the Bush Foundation based in St. Paul (pictured right), addressed the honorees and guests.

Two honorees were named in each of three categories: The Teacher Achievement Award recognizes exemplary teachers who support, inspire and assist students to attain greater learning as evidenced by student achievement; the Academic Coach of the Year Award recognizes classroom teachers who are exemplary coaches of student teams that participate and compete in academic challenges endorsed by the Minnesota Academic League Council; and the Ethics in Education Award recognizes exemplary educators who embody ethical behavior and promote ethical development for students through classroom or school activities, policies or curriculum.

The 2009 WEM Foundation Outstanding Educator Award honorees are:

Teacher Achievement Award:


Stephen Booth is a third-grade teacher at Laporte Elementary School who has been teaching for 16 years. He was awarded the Fulbright Teacher Exchange and taught in Birmingham, England from 2004 to 2005. Booth organizes, promotes and leads a student recognition assembly every Friday afternoon. Through his efforts, students are recognized for the contributions they make to the school and their education.

Jessica Strom teaches math to students in grades 9-12 at Win-E-Mac Public School. She has been teaching for six years. Her introduction of manipulatives and technology into her classroom has resulted in increased student involvement, comprehension and motivation, as well as improved grades and test scores.


Academic Coach of the Year Award:

Mark Schleisman currently teaches grades five and six at West Elementary in Murray County Central Schools. He has been teaching for 33 years and has been an academic challenge coach for 27 years. He coaches Math Masters, MN Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl, MN Mathematics League, National Geographic Bee, National Math Bee, World Math Day, in addition to conducting and organizing spelling bees, science fairs, and poetry and poster contests.

Kim Westra teaches fourth grade in the Atheneum Gifted and Talented Program at Salem Hills Elementary School. She has been teaching and coaching for three years. She currently coaches FIRST LEGO® League (FLL), Young Inventors Program, Continental Math League, Word Masters and assists in School Chess Association chess tournaments. She is also on the Minnesota Parent Teacher Association (MNPTA) board of directors and currently chairs the MNPTA Reflections Art Program.


Ethics in Education Award:


Kathleen Gerber teaches fifth grade in the Atheneum Gifted and Talented Program at Salem Hills Elementary School. She has been teaching for more than 38 years. Gerber was in on the “ground floor” of the Atheneum Gifted and Talented program at Salem Hills and is one of the two charter teachers who formed the magnet school.


Adeline Miller is currently a K-6 music teacher and band director for fifth and sixth grade at Tracy Area Elementary School. She has been teaching for more than 24 years. Miller assisted in the school’s character initiatives by teaching songs to her students about making positive choices as they explored the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

The WEM Educator Awards program was created by the WEM Foundation, and is administered by the Center for Academic Excellence in partnership with The Minnesota Service Cooperatives (MSC). The WEM Foundation supports teachers and their important role in helping all children achieve academically. The awards program, now in its eleventh year, has helped recognize education’s often "unsung heroes" and educators who daily meet the challenges and opportunities of teaching in a variety of settings.

Educators are nominated by students, students’ parents, colleagues or community members. Those who accept the nomination provide additional information for review and consideration by the Center for Academic Excellence and a blue ribbon selection panel, which reviews and ranks the nominees.

In addition to the six statewide honorees, ten additional educators were named as regional honorees for 2009.

Nominations are currently underway for the 2010 WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program.
Place your nominations online today.


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