Eric Songer

Pictured from left: Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams; Mark Shoquist, assistant principal at Chaska Middle School West; Nicole Klitzke, District 112 Foundation Board Chair; 2021 Teacher of the Year Eric Songer; Nate Gibbs, principal at Chaska Middle School West.

Eric Songer was named the 2021 Teacher of the Year by the District 112 Foundation as part of its Excellence in Education Awards.

Songer teaches music and band to Chaska Middle School West grades 6-8. Songer has expanded his knowledge into evolving music styles, as well as music production and engineering to keeping students involved and engaged, according to a press release.

“Songer has an infectious enthusiasm for teaching and believes that all students benefit from music education,” the release stated.

Songer was instrumental in helping the music department shift into hybrid and distance learning models. He was creative in setting up classroom structures that helped to preserve the integrity of the learning environment while also fostering a personal connection with each of his students, the release stated.

Throughout the past 12 months, Songer has visited students and families in the community, following social distancing guidelines, and has even organized driveway concerts.

Songer earns praise from students and colleagues; speaks at national conferences to share his knowledge with other music educators; promotes a team mentality; and frequently sends staff nice emails or drops off “pick me up” donuts to peers he thinks could use some cheer. Songer has also introduced “Red Pants Thursday,” a day where staff members wear red pants to show solidarity and unity, according to the release.

Devoting hours outside of school, Songer teaches students across the district how to play various musical instruments and various styles of music.

“Even though this year has been hard, Mr. Songer has kept us going and keeps being positive,” stated one student.

Other finalists for Teacher of the Year were: Jen Carlson, Clover Ridge Elementary School; Margaret Cassett, Chaska High School; Leeann Sit, La Academia; Andrew Waller, Chaska Middle School East. Fifty-one teachers were nominated this year representing every building in the district.

As Teacher of the Year, Songer will receive $1,000 for use in his classroom. The four finalists will each receive $500 for use in their classrooms. These grants were made possible thanks to foundation sponsor CarSpec.

The District 112 Foundation is a nonprofit organization, separate from the school district, that advances excellence and innovation within Eastern Carver County Schools. Visit www.district112foundation.org or call 952-556-6299 for further information.

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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