South metro

Nine candidates for Teacher of the Year

Nine teachers in the south metro — and 114 others — are being considered for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year award, chosen on May 3. Teachers can be from any Minnesota school and teach prekindergarten through 12th grade. The list will be whittled down between now and then into semifinalists and finalists.

Here are the local nominees:

Mark Riggs, Burnsville-Eagan-Savage; Christopher Clifford, Kari Dykhoff and Cathy Knutson, Lakeville; Tina Dokken, Northfield; Tony Linbo, Randolph; Pamela Jaye, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan; Lori Shubat, South St. Paul; Kelli Walters, West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan.

New Prague

Basketball coach is award-winner

Ron Gunderson, girls’ basketball coach at New Prague High School, was awarded the Breaking Barriers Award last week, an honor given by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership. Gunderson has collected more than 630 wins, 12 conference championships, eight section championships and a state title in 2000.

Gunderson is respected for his hard work and developing strong players who are proud of the program.

The award celebrates individuals who have overcome challenges and provided athletic opportunities for girls and women of all races, ages and ability levels.

Prior LAKE-Savage

Teachers win science education award

Sara Aker and Becky Stark, two science teachers in the Prior Lake-Savage district, are recipients of the 2015 Minnesota Science Teachers Association’s Science Teaching Award. Aker, a fifth-grade teacher at Redtail Ridge Elementary, is the elementary-level recipient while Stark, who teaches eighth-grade science at Hidden Oaks Middle School, is the secondary level winner.

Winners are chosen for their excellence in teaching, their impact on students and contributions to science education.

They will each receive a $1,000 grant for classroom use. The award will be presented at the Minnesota Conference for Science Education on Feb. 20 in Mankato.

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan

Parent input sought on school options

Parents of preschool and elementary-aged kids in District 196 are being asked to complete a survey to determine their interest in different academic themes and alternative school calendars. The district may use the input to create additional school options, like magnet schools. Some of the themes being considered are STEM, environmental sciences, fine and performing arts, international studies, leadership, Montessori and world languages.

The survey is open through Feb. 27. Parents can access the 12-question survey with a link provided by their child’s elementary school or early childhood program.

The district’s current efforts to survey parents on magnet school options come after a letter from the state several months ago that classifies Echo Park Elementary and Oak Ridge Elementary as racially identifiable schools.

Creating more magnet schools is a strategy for evening out racial balance among schools and has seen success at Cedar Park Elementary, now a STEM magnet, and Glacier Hills, now an arts and science magnet. Both schools were determined to be racially identifiable several years ago. Diamond Path Elementary was also converted to an international studies magnet. All have proved popular with parents and won state and national recognition.

For more information on the survey, contact any elementary school or call Stacy Wells at 651-423-7914.

Savage

St. John the Baptist pastor honored

The Rev. Mike Tix, pastor at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Savage, is a recipient of the National Catholic Education Association’s Distinguished Pastor Award, an honor given to 12 pastors from across the U.S. in 2015.

Each diocese can nominate one pastor for the award, and Tix is the first-ever winner from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

He will receive the award at the National Catholic Education Association’s annual convention in Florida on April 7.

Erin Adler