Nina Kirkman was named the 2019 Teacher of the Year at the District 112 Foundation Excellence in Education Awards Banquet on April 28.

Kirkman is a seventh-grade science teacher at Pioneer Ridge Middle School. Although she’s a science teacher, she incorporates music, poetry, and other forms of learning to help bring the subject alive for her students, according to a press release.

Kirkman also helps build a stronger school community through implementation and facilitation of the Where Everybody Belongs (WEB) program. This is a middle school transition program where eighth-graders serve as mentors and work with sixth-graders to help them feel comfortable in their new school environment.

Her colleagues have identified her as a district-wide leader, helping other teachers, while keeping a “kid lens” on curriculum writing and development. Her passion for science is infectious, and her students praise her ability to connect with them both in and out of the classroom, helping them achieve more than they think is possible, the release stated.

The Excellence in Education Award is a program of the District 112 Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing innovation and excellence in education in Eastern Carver County Schools.

In addition to Kirkman, the other finalists were: Bill Gilness, Chaska Middle School West; Virginia Jackson, Chanhassen Elementary School; Mary Mobeck, Carver Elementary School; and Justin Newman, Chaska Middle School East. This was a record breaking year; 54 nominations were received for a total of 44 teachers representing every building in the district.

As Teacher of the Year, Kirkman will receive $3,000 for use in her classroom. The four finalists will also receive $500 for use in their classrooms. These grants were made possible with foundation sponsors Bercom, The Chaska Mill, Qdoba, Rasmussen College, Lenzen Chevrolet Buick, and Wagner Press & Graphics.

Past award recipients include: Anna Edlund, Jake Jauert, Edie Stearns, Tim Beckler, Candice Galipo, Bob Downs, Michele Schnaare, Sara Rother, Mary Perrine, Julie Myhr, Arlene Borner and Eric Songer.

For more information about the District 112 Foundation, visit

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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