A Pine River-Backus teacher is a 2007 Minnesota Teacher of the Year finalist.
Katie Brennan, a high school English teacher, has taught for 10 years in the Pine River-Backus School District. She previously taught in Thief River Falls, Goodridge and Pequot Lakes.
She teaches 10th-grade English, two composition classes and multicultural literature.
A panel of 21 business, government and nonprofit leaders selected the finalists from a group of 25 semifinalists, which earlier had been narrowed from a field of 130 Teacher of the Year candidates.
Katie Brennan was inspired by the example of her mother, who was a first-grade teacher in Minneapolis.
Brennan grew up in St. Paul, where her mother was a first-grade teacher.
"Although she died when I was young, I remember the creative things she often did with her students and I especially remember how much she truly cared about them," Brennan said in an e-mail interview. "I have tried to follow her example.
"Like my mom, I chose to become a teacher because I sincerely care about kids. They are the reasons I do what I do. A file cabinet, a textbook and a computer may be the tools of my profession, but they do not set the agenda for my classroom. When students enter my classroom each day, I want them to know that I am there to serve them, for every one of them is worth my time and attention. I want to make a positive difference in their lives and show them that they have the potential to make a positive difference in the lives of others."
Brennan and her husband, Tom, have six children, age 2 to 21.
"Another thing that I believe helps me to be a better teacher is that I have six children of my own," Brennan said. "Looking out at the faces of my students, I also see the faces of my own children and I remember that my students are the precious children of others."
"As far as being one of the 11 finalists, I am honored and humbled; and it is an honor I continue to share with the teachers and staff of Pine River-Backus, for without them, I would not be one of the 11 finalists."
Lee-Ann Stephens, the 2006 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, will announce the 2007 choice May 6 at a banquet at The Northland Inn and Conference Center in Brooklyn Center. The selection panel will meet May 5 to conduct individual interviews with the 11 finalists.
The other finalists are Linda Albertson, Eagan High School, French teacher; Donald Krubsack, Orono High School, music teacher; Barbara Milburn, Rochester Mayo High School, English language arts teacher; Curtis Miller, Wayzata East Middle School, American history teacher; Marcia Nelson, Anoka-Hennepin Crossroads Alternative High School, English teacher; Lynn Peterson, Proctor High School, English teacher; Jane Shinobu Sasaki, Minneapolis Armatage Community School, elementary teacher; Kay Banister Schaffer, Mounds View High School, social studies teacher; Deb Schmidt, White Bear Lake Otter Lake Elementary School, elementary teacher; Michael Smart, Robbinsdale Armstrong High School, Japanese teacher.
KATHI NAGORSKI may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5859.
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