One-room schoolhouse

The District 112 Foundation has announced the 2020 Teacher of the Year finalists.

“The Teacher of the Year award honors and recognizes outstanding teachers in the district who advance excellence and innovation in education,” stated a District 112 Foundation press release.

There were over 30 teachers nominated for the honor by students, parents, peers, and principals. From the nominations, five finalists were chosen, and one will be selected as the 2020 Teacher of the Year for Eastern Carver County Schools.

The 2020 Teacher of the Year, once announced, will be eligible to compete for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year award.

The Teacher of the Year will be announced later this summer and will receive a grant from the District 112 Foundation to be used in the classroom; the remaining finalists will also each receive grants.


Finalists include:

Blair Leigh, 4th and 5th-grade teacher at Carver Elementary School.

Leigh taught at Clover Ridge Elementary prior to moving to Carver Elementary when it opened. June Johnson, principal at Carver Elementary, said Leigh has a deep passion for meeting her students’ needs, while also embracing their diversity and building on each student’s strengths. 

Rachel Novotny, 2nd grade teacher at La Academia.

Novotny “oozes with positivity and potential for her students,” according to La Academia Principal Gretchen Kleinsasser. Kleinsasser also commended Novotny’s willingness to mentor new teachers and for leading professional development activities and the school’s biliteracy team.

Danielle Raabe, Middle-Level Center Based teacher at Chaska Middle School West.

As a middle-level center-based teacher in the Discovery Program at Chaska Middle School West, Raabe received nominations from multiple peers. Raabe’s classroom was described as a “thriving community,” in which students are excited to come to school and strive to be their personal best. 

Jody Tellinghuisen, 5th grade teacher at Bluff Creek Elementary.

Tellinghuisen has taught within the district for 18 years, all of them at Bluff Creek Elementary. Parents of students in Tellinghuisen’s class touted that she’s “the kind of teacher that every parent wants for their child.” 

Kristen Volp, Kindergarten teacher at Chanhassen Elementary

A parent of one of her students noted that Volp “instills passion and excitement to learn” in her students, stating that she often uses dancing, singing and moving to help students learn the kindergarten standards.


According to the District 112 Foundation, teachers nominated for the Teacher of the Year honor included:

  • Ailee Reinhardt, Pioneer Ridge Middle School
  • Aimee Maravigli, Carver Elementary
  • Andrea Beauchamp, Clover Ridge Elementary
  • Andy Granowski, Chaska Middle School West
  • Anna Edlund, Bluff Creek Elementary
  • Barbara DeCou, Jonathan Elementary
  • Blair Leigh, Carver Elementary
  • Chelsie Vogel, Jonathan Elementary
  • Chris Lenius, Chaska High School
  • Cortnee DePoppe, Pioneer Ridge Middle School
  • Eric Songer, Chaska Middle School West
  • Jenifer Peterson, Clover Ridge Elementary
  • Jennifer McCullough, Chaska High School
  • Kim Roach, Clover Ridge Elementary
  • LeeAnn Sit, La Academia
  • Leslie Geissler, Chaska Middle School East
  • Marisol Perez, La Academia
  • Naomi Jones, Chaska High School
  • Rachel Novotny, La Academia
  • Sybil Druce, Victoria Elementary & Family Learning Center
  • Tera Roise, Clover Ridge Elementary
  • Whitney Eipperle, Chanhassen High School
  • Melissa Balcerak, Chaska Middle School West
  • Jody Tellinghuisen, Bluff Creek Elementary
  • Breanna Sudman, Clover Ridge Elementary
  • Terri Cain, DEC/home-based services
  • Jensine Stegenga, La Academia
  • Danielle Raabe, Chaska Middle School West
  • Isis Eddy, Chaska High School
  • Shane Fischer, Chanhassen High School
  • Julie Erlandson, Jonathan Elementary
  • Lindsay McConnell, Chaska Middle School West
  • Kristen Volp, Chanhassen Elementary
  • Mike Schladweiler, Carver Elementary

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.


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