Over the past year, educators in every district across the U.S. have pivoted and adapted, all while continually seeking new ways to provide quality education, to all students. Our district is no exception.

Being an educator in the best of times is a demanding profession that extends well beyond lesson plans and standard class time. During my two-plus years on the school board, I’ve really had the opportunity to understand, first-hand, how true that statement is. Since the pandemic hit over 12 months ago, the challenges that our educators have faced significantly increased with added responsibilities and obstacles. While the school year will continue to evolve, it’s important to pause, reflect and truly recognize the dedication, compassion and flexibility of our Shakopee educators.

Shakopee educators have been, and continue to engage with our students in new ways, going above and beyond demands of a “normal” school year. From connecting with PreK-12 students and families after hours to providing extra instruction or support, sometimes just simply listening, our educators have done it all. Both Shakopee Online and Shakopee IHD teams have worked tirelessly to support various learning styles and equally balance efforts well beyond what would be needed during a typical school year. And on top of it all, this was done, and continues to be done, while adhering to evolving COVID-19 guidance that impacts all staff and families, in and out of the classroom.

“It was nice how our teachers retained their easy going demeanors even with all the new changes going on. It made me feel more stable,” -Winter Shakopee High School 2020-21 yearbook student survey response.

The exceptional work of our educators has also been recognized in many ways over the years, including the annual Minnesota Teacher of the Year award. This year (2021), Shakopee is once again well represented with three educators nominated for the prestigious award: High School English Teacher Katy Tabke, High School FACS Teacher Shawna Wilson and West Middle School Tech Education Teacher Michael Sundblad. Katy Tabke and Shawna Wilson were selected as semi-finalists, in a group of 25, with finalists being announced soon.

While we may all be riding out the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. We will all experience this school year differently, with a unique set of challenges and stories of positivity and perseverance. But one thing is for certain, our dedicated educators are what make Shakopee Public Schools a place of student growth and opportunity. The Shakopee School Board expresses our gratitude to our Shakopee educators. Thank you for keeping our students learning and growing, and thank you for continuing forward.

Kristi Peterson is the chair of the Shakopee School Board. Peterson also serves on the finance, community engagement, and citizens’ communications advisory committees. Peterson was elected to the school board in November 2018.