Sarah Ehlen, a math and science teacher at Prodeo Academy, finds joy in building connections with her students and watching them grow as learners. The veteran teacher believes it’s her job to offer every student in the classroom the most challenging school work while providing the skills and tools needed to master lessons.
This focus on excellence landed her a Minnesota Teacher of the Year nomination. Education Minnesota, the state’s largest education union and public education advocacy organization, gives the annual award.
Her dedication to student success and innovative teaching methods have made her a standout educator in St. Paul. Ehlen’s nomination came from two of her students and Prodeo Middle Academy Principal Sara Zinda. Zinda states in her nomination letter: “Ms. Ehlen’s ability to create a fun and focused learning environment encourages students to take risks and achieve goals.”
Middle school can be challenging, but she has built trust and community. Students connect and complete work, laugh, and have fun. Working in small groups, answering math problems on the board, and participating in call-and-response activities leads to students that are engaged and respectful throughout the lesson.
Her work has paid off this year. Students in her class are seeing big academic growth. Ehlen’s students made 163% and 147% of their projected math growth between the fall and winter testing.
When asked why she teaches, Ehlen referred to her teaching philosophy. “My teaching philosophy is rigor, consistency, and humanity,” she said. She believes students are capable of tackling challenging material and developing life skills. Ehlen emphasized that all students are entitled to a high-quality education.
“It’s my job to put rigorous materials in front of them and ensure they have the resources and skills to achieve,” she added. “Consistency is key to providing a safe and predictable learning environment. At the same time, humanity reminds me that everyone in the school is unique and bound to make mistakes.”
The winner of the award will be announced in May. Ehlen has worked at Prodeo Academy for seven years. The public charter opened its door in the old St. Bernard’s church school building in 2018, and the next school year will serve pre-k through 6th-grade students.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here