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2015 WEM Educator Award Brunch

Outstanding Educators Receive Awards Totaling $114,000
On May 16, educators from Minnesota received $15,000 awards from the WEM Foundation at the 17th Annual WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Brunch held at the Oak Ridge Conference Center in Chaska.
Educators and academic coaches from Cambridge-Isanti Schools, St. Cloud Area School District, Detroit Lakes Public Schools, Elk River Area Public Schools, Rochester School Public Schools and West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools have been named as recipients of WEM Foundation Outstanding Educator Awards in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to student achievement.
Two honorees were named in each of three categories: The Teacher Achievement Award recognizes exemplary teachers who support, inspire and assist students to attain greater learning as evidenced by student achievement; the Academic Challenge Coach of the Year Award recognizes teachers who are exemplary coaches of student teams that participate and compete in academic challenges endorsed by the Minnesota Academic League Council; and the Ethics in Education Award recognizes exemplary educators who embody ethical behavior and promote ethical development for students through classroom or school activities, policies or curriculum. In addition, the WEM Foundation presented the Excellence in Education Award, which recognizes superior contributions of educators whose leadership and dedication inspire a spirit of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities outside the traditional education system and classroom.
The 2015 WEM Foundation Outstanding Educator Award honorees are:
Teacher Achievement Award:
Jackie Alderman has been teaching for five years and currently teaches middle school English and writing at the Minnesota Center in the Cambridge-Isanti public schools. Alderman’s students have taught her when she needs to be firm and when she needs to be compassionate. They’ve taught her that she needs them just as much as they need her, all the while confirming for her that she belongs in education.
Eric Friberg has been teaching for four years, and currently teaches biology at Henry Sibley High School in West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools. Friberg decided to become a teacher when he was a senior in high school fulfilling a requirement of national honor society by serving as a peer tutor. He learned that he could be effective as an educator and took great joy in teaching others.
Academic Challenge Coach Award:
Karlyn Doyle has been teaching and coaching for 23 years. She currently teaches Spanish, Global Communication and Media Technology to students in grades 6-8 at North Junior High School in St. Cloud and coaches Community Problem Solving, a component of Future Problem Solving and Knowledge Bowl. The most important thing Doyle has learned through teaching is to put others before self. She believes valuing each and every student and staff member one works with provides encouragement and guidance for future decisions.
Ron Hustvedt, Jr. has been teaching and coaching for 17 years. He currently teaches middle school social studies and coaches History Day at Salk Middle School in Elk River. Hustvedt’s students have taught him that they appreciate balance. Hustvedt works hard to find that balance with each of them every day of the year by providing an environment that is challenging and pushes them, but also allows for extra time and gives second chances.
Ethics in Education Award:
Kelli Hanninen has been teaching for 20 years and currently teaches fifth grade at Rossman Elementary School in Detroit Lakes. Hanninen also provides leadership for the school’s character education program. Hanninen decided to become a teacher because of those teachers who cared so deeply for her growing up. They not only provided her with an education but also cared for her as a whole person. Hanninen wanted to pay it forward and provide that same experience for future generations.
James Sonju has been in the education field for 22 years. Sonju currently serves as principal at Lincoln Elementary in Rochester. Sonju advice for other educators would be to treat each day as the greatest gift by bringing all of the positivity and hope you have to everything you do each and every day, to seek out the underserved students and be the bridge to their success; and always look for the positives while never, ever giving up on a student.
Excellence in Education Award:
Dr. Karen Rusthoven, who was the keynote speaker at the brunch, was surprised with the Excellence in Education Award. Rusthoven began her career in education in 1966. She was a teacher for 16 years in public and parochial schools in St. Paul, and was principal of two Catholic grade schools in south Minneapolis, before founding Community of Peace Academy in 1995. Community of Peace has twice been named a Minnesota School of Character and National School of Character school of character through the state schools of character program and Character Education Partnership.
The WEM Outstanding Educator Awards program was created by the WEM Foundation and is administered by Synergy & Leadership Exchange (Synergy) in partnership with The Minnesota Service Cooperatives (MSC). The WEM Foundation supports teachers and acknowledges their important role in helping all children achieve academically. The awards program, now in its 17th year, has helped recognize education’s often “unsung heroes,” educators who meet the challenges and opportunities of teaching in a variety of settings.
Educators are nominated for the WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program by students, parents, colleagues or community members. Those who accept the nomination provide additional information for review and consideration by Synergy & Leadership Exchange and a blue ribbon selection panel, which reviews and ranks the nominees.
In addition to the seven statewide honorees, six additional educators were honored as 2015 regional honorees and each received a $1,500 award and a trophy.

2015 WEM Outstanding Educator Award Honorees


Keynote Speaker Karen Rusthoven, Ph.D.


"Leave Your Mark On the World," a Minnesota Future Problem Solving project from coach and honoree Karlyn Doyle, along with MFPS Executive Director Cheryl Whitesitt.


Karen Rusthoven, Ph.D., is surprised with a 20215 WEM Outstanding Educator Award for Excellence in Education.


Ron Hustvedt give the History Day signature "thumbs up."

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