EP Nominees of the Teacher of the Year award share what inspires them about teaching 

Eden Prairie School's teachers are one of the many reasons why families choose Eden Prairie for their student's preK-12 education. Our teachers bring a standard of excellence that is unlike any other school district, and this year's nominees for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year is a direct reflection of their inspiring work as teachers, educators and mentors.

When asked about their teaching experience at Eden Prairie, each teacher interpreted the question a bit differently. Take a look:

What has inspired you about teaching at Eden Prairie Schools?
Emily Larson: I have loved working in Eden Prairie and being part of an amazing group of educators who lift students up and go above and beyond to help students succeed. Eden Prairie Schools is a place where everyone belongs and everyone is accepted and I feel honored to be part of this district. 
 
Kassy Miller: I truly love the amazing people I’ve gotten to work with throughout my career. EP has an amazing abundance of incredible teachers, administrators, and staff. I wouldn’t be in EP without them.
 
Nate Gabel: I really am here for my kids and my families. They are who I work hard for. They bring their passions, worries and hearts to my room each morning. The kids also bring their humor and their questions about life and learning. They make teaching so much fun. Seeing these kids exceed, grow and eventually blow us all away with who they become is why we do this difficult work. I am just glad to be along for the ride.  

What have your biggest takeaways been this year? How have you supported yourself and your class during these covid times?
Emily Larson: During this time, I have learned that being flexible from day to day is crucial for my students and myself. So many of us thrive off of predictability, and during this time I have had to shift my mindset and help my students shift their mindsets. Relationships are so important and the last few years have proven that is true.  I have learned that being a constant for my students and giving them whatever it is that they need on a day-to-day basis is so important during a time filled with so much uncertainty. 

Kassy Miller: There is no way I can “briefly” answer this one. It has been a rollercoaster of a year. I’ve been at this for 25 years and this is by far my most challenging year on so many levels. The best way I can say that I’ve supported myself and my students is “COMPASSION”. Here is my daily motto: Everyone you meet is fighting a great battle you know nothing about. Just be kind.
 
Nate Gabel: My biggest takeaways for the year have been that kids are so resilient. They have all had some kind of adjustment this year in school and in their personal lives and yet they are all making it. They all continue to be so flexible with masks, pods, not being able to gather with other classes and for many the return to in person learning. They have showed up for Zoom meetings for the past three months as we cannot seem to get everyone to class. They have been patient with the kids learning from home and of course the teacher. They do homework and continue to ask questions that push themselves and those around them to be better. I continue to carry on. I get support from my fellow teachers.
 
What’s one thing you’re looking forward to in the next year?
Emily Larson: I'm looking forward to creating more normalcy for my students during these unique times and finding ways to teach life skills within our school community. 

Kassy Miller: Not having to wear masks anymore.  😊

Nate Gabel: I look forward to a time when COVID is a thing of the past. I look forward to seeing the full faces of the kids and adults around me. I also look forward to being able to teach just in person and Zoom is something that is not needed or only needed for a few things. I look forward to gathering as colleagues for both work and fun. I also look forward to a day when teachers are asked what they need to take care of themselves and we work to meet those needs. The days when masks are tossed aside and we see the smiles and feel the laughter will be a great day.

The Minnesota Teacher of the Year award will be announced at the awards ceremony in May. This award is not given lightly, as it goes through a rigorous selection process, but we wish each of our EP educators the best of luck!