First charter school teacher named 'Minnesota Teacher of the Year'

- For the first time ever, a charter school teacher was awarded the 2016 Minnesota Teacher of the Year award on Sunday in Bloomington.

Abdul Wright teaches eighth-grade Language Arts at The Best Academy in Minneapolis. He's the 52nd recipient of the award, chosen by an independent selection committee through Education Minnesota.

“Mr. Wright embodies what it means to be a transformational teacher,” said Meghan Roegge, in her nomination letter for Wright. “He impacts and changes lives every day that he comes to work.”

Wright will represent Minnesota's thousands of educators when meeting with policymakers, attending meetings, and making presentations.

“Respect is at the center of my values and beliefs as an educator,” Wright said. “I try to teach my students that we have to be a model of excellence for the community we want, not the community we see.”

Wright also becomes Minnesota’s candidate for National Teacher of the Year. Four Minnesotans have become National Teacher of the Year – Mary Beth Blegen, Worthington, 1996; Guy Doud, Brainerd, 1986; Robert Heyer, Mounds View, 1975; and Roger Tenney, Owatonna, 1966.

Wright has taught at Best Academy since 2012. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in St. Paul and will receive his master’s degree in education from Hamline University this spring.

The 11 finalists for this year's Teacher of the Year award were:

-Julie Beaver, Zimmerman Middle/High School, Elk River, math, grade 8
-Melanie DeWitt, Clear Springs Elementary School, Minnetonka, elementary, kindergarten
-Jill Hansen, Hermantown Middle School, Hermantown, science, grades 6-7
-Joe Lawrence, Delano High School, Delano, language arts, grades 9-10
-Maria Le, Central Park Elementary School, Roseville, elementary, grade 1
-Jennifer Lompart, Northfield High School, Northfield, performing arts/ESL, grades 9-12
-Whitney McKinley, Hiawatha College Prep, Minneapolis, visual art, grades 5-8
-Juanita Ortiz, Phalen Lake Hmong Studies Magnet School, St. Paul, ELL/Latino Culture, grades kindergarten-5
-Erin Rehnblom, Otsego Elementary School, Elk River, elementary, grade 1
-Abdul Wright, Best Academy, Minneapolis, language arts, grade 8
-Koua Yang, Harding High School, St. Paul, social studies, grades 9-12

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