Sara Medalen is teacher of the year

Sara Medalen, a reading and math interventionist at Sunnyside Elementary, is the teacher of the year. At left are last year’s teacher of the year, Lynae Holmen, and Minot Public School superintendent Mark Vollmer.

Sara Medalen, a reading and math interventionist at Sunnyside Elementary who has had students read to her while she is braiding or styling their hair in her classroom, was named the Minot Education Association teacher of the year on Monday.

“Oh, my goodness, this is so much better than the Ellen Show,” Medalen told the crowd of fellow teachers after boogeying her way onto the stage at Minot State University’s Ann Nicole Nelson Hall. “I love dance parties!”

Lynae Holmen, last year’s teacher of the year, had mentioned in her introductory speech that one of Medalen’s bucket list items it to dance on Ellen Degeneres’s “The Ellen Show.”

Holmen praised Medalen’s energy and zest for life and her work with kids.

“She strives daily to make sure kids feel loved, respected, and understood,” said Holmen.

Medalen spoke to the audience about the importance of recognizing the traumatic experiences that some of their students have experienced and that might make it difficult for them to learn. In her own family, children have lost parents to tragedies, she told the audience. Teachers can help fill in the gaps for children who are dealing with difficulties at home. A teacher might end up being the most caring and consistent adult in a child’s life, Medalen said. Teachers in the district have had training in being sensitive to traumas and incorporating that awareness into their teaching and classroom management strategies.

Medalen showed pictures on the screen of her in a classroom with various students in a “Books and Braids” or a “Dudes and Dos” session, where children were reading to her while she fixed their hair.

Medalen said she has received support from her principal, Cindy Cook, and from other teachers in the district and from her family.

She told the audience it is also important to maintain high academic standards for students.

The teacher of the year is traditionally announced during the teacher assembly. Classes start this week in the Minot Public Schools.

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