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Minnesota's Teacher of the Year 'impacts and changes lives every day'

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In more than 50 years, a charter school teacher had never won the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award.

Until Sunday.

Abdul Wright, who teaches language arts to eighth-graders at The Best Academy in Minneapolis, was named Teacher of the Year Sunday.

He's the 52nd person to receive the award, which says it's the longest-running teacher recognition program in the state.

"Respect is at the center of my values and beliefs as an educator," he said in a news release. "I try to teach my students that we have to be a model of excellence for the community we want, not the community we see."

The award is given out by Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers union. Wright was selected by a panel of 23 "community leaders," who narrowed it down from a preliminary list of 115 candidates.

The Best Academy

In 2008, the school began focusing on the "unique education needs of African-American boys," according to The Best Academy's 2015 annual report.

There are now more than 700 students enrolled at the school (about 58 percent male). Nearly all students are African-American, and 92 percent of them qualify for the freed or reduced lunch program.

Wright has taught at The Best Academy since 2012. He got his bachelors degree from St. Paul's Concordia University, and is set to get a master’s degree in education from Hamline University soon.

"[He] embodies what it means to be a transformational teacher," Meghan Roegge wrote in her nomination letter for Wright. “He impacts and changes lives every day that he comes to work.”

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