Schools notebook // Teacher of the year


Barton’s Damm is Teacher of the Year

EAST HARRIET — Clara Barton Open School teacher Amber Damm was named 2009 Minnesota Teacher of the Year in May by Education Minnesota, the state’s largest teachers union.

Damm, a seventh- and eighth-grade English and language arts teacher, started at Barton in 2001. She was among 11 finalists chosen from 101 nominees for the annual award.

Damm said her success in working with middle school students was possible only with the help of Barton Principal Steve DeLapp and the other teachers at the K–8 school.

“I’m on the shoulders of many people before me who have done everything right to get kids ready to be in my class,” she said.

She said the 12- to 14-year-olds in her classroom were at a pivotal point in their lives, and her goal was to prepare them for high school.

Damm said she did not shy away from challenging material in her classes, which included a film studies course and a class on the Holocaust.

“The greatest mistake a middle school teacher can make is to teach down,” she said. “… These students are ready for what’s next.”

The middle grades years are often viewed as a difficult age to teach, but Damm said that wasn’t necessarily the case.

“I don’t think there’s any age that’s any easier than any other,” she said. “I think they each bring about different challenges.”

Damm’s award comes with a trip to Harvard University for a week-long continuing education course. Along with other state’s teachers of the year, she’ll go to Space Camp in July and have the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama in April.

Damm won a $17,000 classroom technology grant for her school. She also will represent Minnesota in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

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Southwest teacher ambassador in education

LINDEN HILLS — A Southwest High School teacher was one of 25 winners nationwide of a 2009 MetLife Foundation Ambassadors in Education award.

Arts and humanities teacher Caroline Hooper was recognized for her efforts to bring business and civic leaders into the classroom to discuss public policy issues with students. The Ambassadors in Education award, established in 2003, was designed to recognize efforts that build bridges between schools and communities.

Hooper received a $5,000 grant with the award.

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Bryn Mawr band fundraiser

BRYN MAWR — Former Replacement guitarist Slim Dunlap headlines a Bryn Mawr Community School Parent Teacher Association fund-raising concert 8:30 p.m. May 23 at Lee’s Liquor Lounge, 101 Glenwood Ave.

Proceeds from the concert support the Bryn Mawr band program. Local bands Gone is Gone and Stearns County Pachenga Society open.

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Burroughs principal suspension ends

LYNNHURST — Burroughs Community School Principal Tim Cadotte returned to work May 4 following two weeks of paid administrative leave.

Cadotte was placed on leave in April after what parents described as a heated exchange with School Board Member Chris Stewart. District officials acknowledged a third-party investigation was ongoing, but never confirmed the details of the incident, citing district personnel regulations.

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MPS students named National Merit Scholars

Students at South and Southwest high schools were the latest Minneapolis Public Schools students named National Merit Scholars in May.

Southwest senior Erik Larson and South senior Laurel Starr were among about 8,200 Merit Scholarship winners nationwide who each earned a $2,500 scholarship. About 15,000 finalists for the awards were selected based on their academic records, SAT scores, recommendations from school officials and other factors, including a student essay.

Previously announced winners of corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships included Patrick Budde of Southwest and Margaret Nichols of South.

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Annunciation arts teacher honored

WINDOM — Local TV station Fox 9 KMSP named a veteran Annunciation School teacher one of their Top Teachers of 2009.

Mary Strickland, who has taught music and creative arts at the Windom neighborhood Catholic school for 36 years, was one of nine teachers to receive a 2009 Top Teacher Award.