In a scene that played out in 1,000 classrooms across the country last week, Kira Fischler, an English language teacher at Carver Elementary School in Maplewood, received a surprise visit and award: $1,000 in classroom supplies.

Principal Isis Buchanan nominated Fischler for the “A Day Made Better” honor, which recognizes that teachers often use their own money to buy back-to-school materials.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Fischler said after being presented with a leather chair and a large box containing pens, notebooks, a camera and a Kindle Fire tablet. “It’s pretty amazing.”

She said that the pens and notebooks would come in handy for English Language Learner students, who sometimes need classroom essentials. She had considered buying a tablet, she added, to take advantage of applications available to aid teaching.

Randy Thury, who manages an OfficeMax store in Cottage Grove, presented her with the box during a brief ceremony in Room 110. Then students rushed to peer inside it, with one exclaiming: “You’re so lucky.”

Buchanan, the principal, is in her first year at Carver Elementary, and knows of surprise honors herself. She received a $25,000 Milken National Educator Award in 2006 while teaching in St. Paul.

In her nomination letter, Buchanan wrote that Fischler helped her in her move to Carver and had volunteered for a school leadership team that met several times in the summer. “She does this because she cares and knows the work needs to be done,” Buchanan said.

When the day’s work is complete, Fischler also is likely to enjoy her new chair.

After taking a seat last Tuesday at Thury’s invitation, she said: “I’m never going to move.”

A Day Made Better is a joint effort between OfficeMax and


Teacher with videos online goes to summit

Megan Zachman, a Middleton Elementary School teacher whose website,, attracted national attention this summer, has been invited to attend an Education Nation Summit in New York.

The event, hosted by NBC News, begins Sunday, Oct. 6, and will run through Tuesday. Teachers, parents, students and other will explore what’s needed to ensure students are “successfully prepared for college, career and beyond,” the Education Nation website said.

Zachman, who teaches second grade, teamed with colleagues this summer to create online videos that gave last year’s students a chance to brush up on lessons learned in 2012-13 and to sample work that might be expected of them as third-graders in 2013-14.

A July 27 Star Tribune story noted that the site had received 135 visitors by noon on a then-recent Monday, a day after Zachman posted her weekly allotment of three videos. By mid-August, the site averaged 500 hits a day and was referenced in a newsletter distributed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Zachman said.

According to a South Washington County School District news release, Zachman’s activities at this week’s summit will include joining teachers from across the country in examining the resources and support needed by today’s students.

Anthony Lonetree