Shakopee teacher Kelly Holstine was named 2018 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.
Holstine is an English teacher at the Tokata Learning Center and the first Shakopee educator to be given this award by the educators union Education Minnesota.
She was selected out of 167 candidates by an independent committee of education, business and government leaders. Candidates included public and private school teachers between pre-kindergarten and grade 12 and adult basic education teachers.
A Technology education teacher from East Junior High was also a semifinalist for the honor.
Holstine has taught at the Tokata Learning Center, an alternative high school, since 2012 where she described students "as some of the most creative and brilliant humans with whom I have ever worked" even when dealing with a range of abilities and temperaments.
"Without fail, the students who arrive angry, sad, hurt and/or scared reveal their vulnerability, brilliance and beautiful selves when they feel safe and valued," she said.
Amy Mytnik, a parent of two students, described Holstine's in a nomination letter:
“Many of Tokata’s students are facing struggles that make it difficult to thrive in a standard public school setting...Kelly’s willingness to meet her students where they are and use the most effective methods to foster an environment of safety and healing is most effective in this environment.”
Holstine has a Masters of Arts in Education from Augsburg College and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts.