For the first time in its 54-year history, Minnesota's Teacher of the Year is from Shakopee.
Kelly Holstine – who since 2012 has taught at the Tokata Learning Center – was chosen from 10 finalists out of the 86,000 Education Minnesota members for the prestigious award.
She was nominated by Amy Mytnik, a parent of two of her students, who praised Holstine's ability to adapt to meet the needs of kids who have struggled to learn in a traditional school setting.
"Many of Tokata’s students are facing struggles that make it difficult to thrive in a standard public school setting," she wrote.
"Kelly’s willingness to meet her students where they are and use the most effective methods to foster an environment of safety and healing is most effective in this environment."
When accepting her award, Holstine said that while her students have "varying abilities and temperaments," they are also "some of the most creative and brilliant humans with whom I have ever worked."
The Tokata Learning Center is an alternative high school, offering a different experience for Grade 9-12 students, with smaller class sizes and extended lesson times to enable "more in-depth learning and teacher contact."
Holstine has taught in Minnesota since 2007, having graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts and a master's degree from Augsburg College.