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SE teacher was semi-finalist

For Minnesota Teacher of the Year award

May 10, 2009
By Fritz Busch — Staff Writer

SLEEPY EYE - Sleepy Eye Elementary School teacher Cyndi Jakel was among 27 semifinal candidates for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year award reflected on the 45th annual banquet May 3 at The Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park.

"It was an honor to be part of such an elite group of people," Jakel said regarding the annual program that honors excellence among Minnesota educators.

In her fourth year at Sleepy Eye, Jakel is thriving on taking on new challenges and responsibilities.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Fritz Busch

Sleepy Eye Public School sixth grade teacher Cyndi Jakel, left, and Media Specialist Nancy Moore in front of students in the elementary media center. Both women are school staff development co-chairwomen.

For the past two school years, she has been the school district's staff development co-chairwoman with Media Specialist Nancy Moore..

As if that wasn't enough, Jakel studied at the University of St. Thomas, taking online classes and attending classes to earn certification to teach 6th grade language arts.

A resident of New Ulm, Jakel is active at Our Savior's Lutheran Church. She sings in the Bell Choir, teaches Sunday School and visited the Boundary Waters Canoe Area last summer with some of her students.

The selection committee representing Minnesota leaders in education, business and government, chose Amber Damm as 2009 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

A middle school English and Language Arts teacher at Clara Barton Open School in Minneapolis, Damm said the most significant issue in public education is how to address the needs of all learners.

"I have a passion for discovering how students learn," Damm said. "They learn by experiencing authentic relationships with teachers and classmates who know and understand them."

Clara Barton Open School Principal Steven DeLapp said Damm "deeply touches the lives of students she serves, building strong relationships with students and their families."

One of her students commented on her.

"I can't think of a teacher who takes her free time to change a kid's life and fights for what is right other than Amber," wrote the student.

Damm will represent Minnesota for National Teacher of the Year for 2010.

To be eligible for Teacher of the Year nomination, teachers must teach pre-kindergarten through grade 12, hold at least a bachelor's degree and Minnesota teaching license, complete at least three full years of teaching by the nomination deadline and intend to teach during the next school year.

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Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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