Candidates for this year's Minnesota Teacher of the Year award have been announced.

The winner will be chosen from a pool of 134 candidates, who have all accepted their nominations and completed required materials. A panel of about 23 to 25 community members will name semifinalists and finalists in the next several weeks. The winner will be announced on May 3 at a banquet at the St. Paul RiverCentre.

This year is the 56th anniversary of the award, which is organized by Education Minnesota, a statewide educators union.

"The purpose of this program is to honor the work and profession of teaching. In this environment, it is more important than ever to honor the hard work teachers do every day," said Doug Dooher, a spokesman for Education Minnesota.

One candidate is from Minneapolis Public Schools and 10 are from St. Paul Public Schools. The size of this year's candidate pool is in line with numbers from the past 15 years, Dooher said.

Last year's Minnesota Teacher of the Year award was given to Jessica Davis, a math teacher at South St. Paul Secondary. The winner of the award will participate in speaking engagements and become a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award, Dooher said.

"This award recognizes that teachers are doing great work and impacting people's lives, and they deserve that recognition," Dooher said.

Katrina Pross ( is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.