Rushford-Peterson school district is on a roll as their own Maryellen Dean has been honored as the 2018 Fillmore County Journal Teacher of the Year. The 2017 Teacher of the Year, Mary Hoiland, also hails from the Rushford-Peterson school district.
Nominations for Teacher of the Year were available to be filled out and sent in by current students, parent of a student, formers students, colleagues or principal. The award ceremony took place on May 1, 2018, in the R-P school gymnasium.
As the award recipient was a surprise to the students and most of the staff at R-P school there was high anticipation as the students, teachers, and support staff began filling the bleachers in the auditorium.
Jason Sethre, Editor of the Fillmore County Journal, addressed the crowd explaining that there are over 280 teachers in Fillmore County who should all be recognized especially as Teacher Appreciation Day approaches on May 8, 2018.
Ms. Dean has been teaching for 38 years with 37 of those years at Rushford and Rushford-Peterson Schools. She taught fourth grade for eight years and has spent the last 29 years as a third grade teacher. She has worn many hats over the years including a varsity girls basketball coach, a volleyball coach, golf coach and also taught swimming for one year at Winona Public Schools in Winona, Minn.
Ms. Dean will be retiring after this school year and deserves the recognition and appreciation she received
“I heard somewhere that teaching is the only profession that creates other professions; if you look around this room the teachers that are helping these kids not only to learn, but also to be a good person — it’s like an extension of parenting as I see it,” stated Sethre.
With no further ado the drum roll started as third grade student Gus Hoiland announced his nomination, and his current teacher, Ms. Dean, had been chosen as the Teacher of the Year for 2018. As the crowd went wild an astonished Ms. Dean worked her way down to the auditorium floor for the presentation of her Fillmore County Journal Teacher of the Year Award and gifts from sponsors.
Along with the award Ms. Dean received a La-Z-Boy recliner from Drury’s Furniture of Fountain, Minn., presented by Drury’s representative Katelin Redalen Ehler, a Green Mountain grill and hardwood pellets from Ody’s Country Meats & Catering of Spring Valley, Minn., presented by owner Cody Koebke, and a $500 gift card to be used at Harmony Foods, Rushford Foods and Preston Foods presented by owners Jim and Brad Hoiness.
In his nomination for Ms. Dean, Gus Hoiland began by saying his teacher should be the Teacher of the Year because “she really is the best teacher” adding “I know lots of kids think their teacher is the best, but Miss Dean really is,” he wrote.
Another comment from Gus was “if we have trouble with something, she never gives up on us” saying that she will just try to teach them a different way. “She doesn’t only teach us subjects she teaches us respect. She tells us we’re all important and everyone deserves to be treated kindly,” he stated.
“I don’t know how she does it, but she make me want to always do my best,” Gus said in closing.
Another of the nominations that came in for Ms. Dean was from Principal Angela Shepard who is a former student and also the parent of a current student in Ms. Dean’s class. Mrs. Shepard stated in her nomination that Ms. Dean “has blessed our students and school with a love and passion for learning” which they will carry with them the rest of their lives.
Several former students, now in high school, spoke about their memories of having Ms. Dean as their teacher and explaining how she touched their lives.
Superintendant Chuck Ehler spoke about Ms. Dean and her devotion to teaching and to her students. “The one thing that stands out about Ms. Dean is she models her expectations; she asks her students to treat others as they would like to be treated and she models that every day in the classroom, hallway and in all parts of her life,” said Ehler.
“We are proud she is an exemplary person and lives up to the Rushford-Peterson school motto of ‘always our best,’” Ehler stated.
An emotional Ms. Dean then addressed the audience saying “I’ve been very lucky the past 38 years because I’ve been doing something that I love to do,” adding that receiving the award was an honor.
“Rushford-Peterson has the most wonderful students; they are all great kids and they are wonderful to teach,” said Ms. Dean.
Ms. Dean and Superintendent Ehler both thanked the Fillmore County Journal and the sponsors. “We appreciate the Fillmore County Journal for taking time to recognize our teachers,” stated Ehler.
“It is indeed an honor and a privilege to have this award presented to two of our teachers two years running,” said Ehler.
Congratulations and a big Thank You to Ms. Dean who expects to be sitting in her La-Z-Boy and cooking on the grill often after her retirement. Enjoy Ms. Dean!