Bayfield Educator Named Wis. Teacher of the Year

Posted at: 09/18/2013 5:46 PM
Updated at: 09/18/2013 7:53 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

The school year is just a few weeks in, but the Bayfield School District already has big news to share. One of the district's teachers was named Wisconsin's High School Teacher of the Year on Wednesday in a special surprise school assembly.

This is the first time the Bayfield School District has had received such a honor, and for two months the school's superintendent, Dr. David Aslyn, had to keep the big news a secret.

Big news requires a big announcement, so the school called for an assembly.

"I have scheduled this assembly to recognize and celebrate your academic growth," said K-12 Principal Scott Stralka to a gym full of high school students.

The district is celebrating recent good news on their state report card, but the assembly also acted as a guise for the bigger surprise. State Superintendent Tony Evers came up from Madison to make the special announcement.

"Today a teacher in your school will be named one of the best teachers in the state," said Evers.

Then, Evers called Rick Erickson's name in front of all his students, family, and friends. Mr. Erickson is the 2013-2014 Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year.

"It's a huge honor, it's very exciting, I'm very humbled by it," said Mr. Erickson.

For 30 years, Rick Erickson has taught physics and chemistry. 20 of those years have been spent in Bayfield and a few years back he started teaching alternative education, too.

A fellow teacher, Mr. Erickson's wife of 30 years says he puts his heart and soul into his students. She said before he taught, his sights were set on engineering. He is a graduate of UMD.

"I cried I was just so happy for him," said Lorie Erickson. "He is very fun and energetic in the classroom, he sings, he dances, sometimes."

Those he works with say it's how he interacts with his students that makes him one of the best.

"Mr. Erickson is great at connecting with his students and their families," said Dr. Aslyn.

For Mr. Erickson, the classroom never gets old.

"I'm sure like a lot of us, I don't feel like I'm getting older... I still play basketball with them, I play football with them," said Mr. Erickson.

And for young teachers, he has a little advice.

"If it's your passion, you're going to love it and you just dive in and do it," he said.

As part of the honor, Mr. Erickson will receive $3,000 from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation.

Mr. Erickson joins three other Wisconsin teachers named Teacher of the Year. They cover special services, elementary school, and middle school. One of the four teachers will be picked to be in the running for National Teacher of the Year.