A fourth-grade teacher in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district was named Thursday as the 2020 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

Qorsho Hassan, 30, teaches at Echo Park Elementary in Burnsville and previously taught in the Burnsville district. In her acceptance speech at an award ceremony on the lawn of the State Capitol, Hassan said she seeks to make students feel empowered to have a voice in her classroom — and urged fellow educators to focus on issues of equity in their lessons and in their interactions with students.

After the event, Hassan said building relationships is especially important with young students. "It's important to let them know they can do anything," she said.

She was selected from a field of 135 nominees, which was narrowed to 10 finalists.

The other finalists were DeWayne Combs, a physical education teacher at Murray Middle School in St. Paul; Katie Coulson, a fourth-grade teacher at Thomas Lake Elementary in Eagan; Shannon Finnegan, a social studies teacher in a Hopkins High School alternative program; Maya Kruger, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at St. Anthony Middle School; Ryan Larson, an eighth- and ninth-grade English teacher at Pine City Junior/Senior High; Omar McMillan, a fourth-grade teacher at Richfield STEM School; Rachel Steil, a grades 10 to 12 English and journalism teacher at Stillwater Area High School; Maria Villavicencio, a first-grade teacher at Eden Lake Elementary in Eden Prairie, and Katie Watland, a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher at Lake Park Audubon Secondary School in Lake Park.

The Teacher of the Year program is organized by Education Minnesota, the state's teachers union, and supported by several other community groups and businesses. Teachers in public and private schools are eligible for the award.