Southeast Minnesota Boasts Top Teachers

Posted at: 02/08/2013 5:32 PM
Updated at: 02/08/2013 6:18 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- The finalists for Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year award were announced yesterday, and for Albert Lea, the announcement was a welcome surprise.

Three teachers, Kathie Lein, Kurt Barickman, and Ken Fiscus from Albert Lea were nominated for the award, and for a relatively small district, that means something.

“I think it says a lot for our school system that we have three teachers nominated this year,” said Kathie Lein, a nominee and special education instructor at Halverson Elementary. “It's a great place to work."

Lein has worked at Halverson Elementary for the past 20 years and was honored as the district's top teacher last year.

And while she said she's humbled by all the attention, she said her real reward is the attention she gives to her students.

“I just love being with kids,” Lein said. “I like being a positive role model and doing things with them and for them to help them be successful."

Fellow nominee Kurt Barickman echoed those sentiments, saying most of the time, the job doesn't feel like a job at all.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time I walk out of here feeling like I had a great day, and the other one percent of the time I just come anyway,” Barickman said chuckling.

But both teachers acknowledged they are not alone in their dedication and said all teachers deserved recognition, nominated or not.

“Teachers work really hard and we love what we get to do,” Lein said.

“There's a lot of other great people in the district and across the state, so I'm just representative of them," Barickman said.

Other nominees from our area include Aaron Stromlund of Austin, Paula Mortenson from Southland, and Sheryl Pischke of Triton.

There are currently 135 finalists for the award. That number will be whittled down over the coming months until a winner is announced at a ceremony on May 5th.