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Minnesota's 2020 Middle School Teacher of the Year dies at 57

Laurie Schmidt battled breast cancer for more than eight years.
Laurie Schmidt

Less than a year after being named a 2020 teacher of the year in Minnesota, Jordan Public Schools special education teacher Laurie Schmidt died of breast cancer at the age of 57. 

Schmidt taught at the district since 2005 and continued to teach despite being diagnosed with breast cancer more than eight years ago. The district described her journey as a "brave fight," saying she "remained an optimistic and valued member of the staff throughout her medical care and interventions since her diagnosis in 2013." 

Schmidt, who was a special education teacher and autism specialist at Jordan Middle School, was honored this past January after the Minnesota Middle School Association named her the Educator of the Year. 

“I was completely humbled and honored that I was being recognized,” Schmidt told Southwest News Media. “There’s so many good teachers out there I work with, so many good teachers are deserving of this award. And for me to be selected is just very humbling.”

“Our JMS family is going to miss Laurie’s never ending passion and commitment to her students greatly," Jordan Middle School Principal Ben Bakeberg said in a statement. "Despite her health challenges, she was always there to support students and families. Laurie's impact at JMS will be felt for years to come.”

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Jordan Public Schools opened for the 2021-22 school year this week and has prepared to help students grieving the loss of Schmidt with counseling staff available. 

"As Laurie’s reach may be unknown, our counseling staff is available to students that may need help processing their emotions during this time. We know that students will deal with grief in different ways, and staff is available to help this processing," the district announced. 

A funeral service for Schmidt was held Monday. 

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