Baesler: Minot Teacher Is Finalist for Teacher of the Year

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Office 701-328-2247
Cell: 701-400-8557
Email: dewetzel@nd.gov
 
Baesler: Minot Teacher Is Finalist for Teacher of the Year

MINOT, N.D., Sept. 14, 2017 – State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Monday announced that Lynae J. Holmen, a special education teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Minot, is a finalist for the North Dakota Teacher of the Year award.

Baesler visited Longfellow on Thursday to inform Holmen that she had been chosen as one of the five finalists for the prestigious award. The superintendent is visiting each finalist in his or her school to call attention to the achievement and to celebrate teaching excellence in North Dakota’s public schools.

On Sept. 28, Baesler and Gov. Doug Burgum will honor the person who is chosen as North Dakota’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.

Holmen and Heather Tomlin-Rohr, a kindergarten teacher at Louis L’Amour Elementary in Jamestown, have been announced as finalists thus far. Baesler will visit the other three finalists next week.

Holmen teaches students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and students who have learning disabilities. An alumna of Minot State University, Holmen has taught at Longfellow Elementary for 34 years.

“The most important thing that I do each day is build relationships with my students. Relationships grow the brain. Relationships are key for students to feel respected and valued,” Holmen said.

“Working with these special students, following them through the grade levels, watching them become independent and creative learners and thinkers, seeing them develop strategies to succeed and graduate, and having them keep in touch as they become adults, is my greatest accomplishment,” she said.

Holmen grew up in Great Falls, Mont., where her parents, uncle and aunt were educators. The Montana School for the Deaf and Blind is located in Great Falls, and Holmen had friends who were deaf and friends with deaf parents.

Holmen took American Sign Language in high school and worked as a student assistant in the class. She volunteered at the School for the Deaf and Blind, and the preschool teacher with whom she worked became a mentor. “She taught me much about this field that I love, and she let me work with the students,” Holmen said.

She attended Minot State, which Holman described as having “an exceptional program of deaf education,” and “I knew that I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing,” Holmen said.

Tracey Lawson, an assistant superintendent in the Minot school district and a former principal at Longfellow, said she marveled “at the way Lynae connects with kids and differentiates her instruction to challenge every student to achieve at their highest level.”

“She makes learning fun for students,” Lawson said. “Lynae loves teaching, and it shows in everything she does.”

North Dakota Teacher of the Year candidates may be nominated by people within a teacher’s school or community. Nominees are asked to provide their educational history and awards, and to write several essays, including descriptions of their teaching philosophies, what influenced them to become teachers, and their thoughts on major education issues.

The applications are reviewed and evaluated by a selection committee that chooses five finalists. The Teacher of the Year is picked from among those finalists.

The committee includes representatives from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and groups representing teachers, school administrators, career and technical education and nonpublic schools. The incumbent Teacher of the Year is also asked to participate.

Additional information about the program
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