Kathy Lukin, an Oakdale Elementary School teacher who works with students with multiple special needs, was honored this month by the Arc of Minnesota as its 2013 teacher of the year.

The award was one of a series of honors given by the advocacy group during a Nov. 1 awards banquet.

Lukin's dedication to special-needs students was rooted in her own experience as an elementary school student, according to a North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District news release. She recalled having seen special-needs students separated from other students and taught in basement classrooms.

"It was then that Lukin knew she wanted to dedicate her career to helping those students learn in an inclusive and caring environment," the district said.

Lukin did not know that she had been nominated for the honor until she received a call notifying her that she had won.

"It's an honor that has touched my life a lot — it has touched my heart," she was quoted as saying.

In addition to the teacher recognition, Arc of Minnesota also honors employers, volunteers, legislators and others who strive to improve the lives of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, the group said.

Other local winners included Madisyn Kephart and Leslie Sieleni, both of White Bear Lake, who were named volunteers of the year.


AVID students collect food bank donations

Seventh- and eighth-graders at Skyview Middle School in Oakdale used their Halloween rounds as an opportunity to collect food for the needy.

The students, who are enrolled in an AVID program, canvassed neighborhoods during the week before Halloween to let people know they would be collecting nonperishable food items, a North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District news release said. Using wagons, they picked up more than 350 pounds of food and plan to deliver it to a community food bank.

AVID is a college readiness program that targets kids in the "academic middle" who have potential for higher performance, the district said.

The students, who sign onto AVID as an academic elective, collected the food as part of an initiative called We Scare Hunger.

In the South Washington County School District, a group of 10 to 15 students at East Ridge High School also took part in a We Scare Hunger food drive by collecting 710 pounds of food instead of candy on Halloween, a South Washington County news release said.

The items are being donated to the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf in Woodbury.

Cottage Grove

District 833 to hold job fair on Saturday

The South Washington County School District has scheduled a job fair for Saturday, Nov. 23, in an effort to hire new bus drivers, nutrition service workers and school paraprofessionals, and to fill a few other positions as well.

Part-time and full-time jobs are available, the district said in a news release.

Department hiring managers will be available to discuss the positions and answer questions. Computers will be provided on-site, too, to allow people to apply online.

The district also is seeking bus assistants, maintenance workers and substitutes for clerical workers and paraprofessionals.

The job fair will run from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the district service center, 7362 East Point Douglas Road S., Cottage Grove.

Anthony Lonetree