3 area educators named finalists for top award
Three Steele County educators are finalists for Minnesota Teacher of the Year.
Kim Goblirsch and Sara Markham, both teachers at Medford Public Schools, and Jessica Wagner, teacher at Owatonna Public Schools, have been chosen among 75 finalists for the state competition.
An independent panel of leaders in the fields of education, business, government, nonprofit and philanthropy will narrow the list to a group of semifinalists in the next few weeks. In March, the panel will convene again and review additional materials from the semifinalists to choose a group of finalists. The top teacher is usually named at a banquet in May, however it may be postponed because of COVID-19.
The Minnesota Teacher of the Year program, which is in its 57th year, is the oldest and most prestigious recognition in Minnesota to honor excellence in education.
Goblirsch, who teaches English language arts at Medford High School, said she is humbled by being chosen as a finalist. “I know this year has been challenging for many educators and there are so many teachers out there who deserve recognition for what they have done to make teaching the most effective during a pandemic,” she said.
The greatest influence in her career, Goblirsch said, is knowing that she is part of something greater than herself. “I am providing a service to the community by helping students understand literature and how it shapes the world around them,” she said.
She graduated from Medford High School in 2000 and returned to teach 12 years ago. Goblirsch has a bachelor’s degree in English/speech communication and education as well as a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
Though there are still two more rounds to go, Wagner said she is humbled and honored to be nominated at the current level. “I am amazed by the teachers that work in Owatonna and to be chosen to represent Owatonna and our profession is really special,” she said.
Wagner said she was led to teaching by the comfort she found in her own classrooms as a student. “I strive to make my classroom feel like a safe space for my students,” she said.
She teaches English, public speaking and journalism at Owatonna High School. She is also the adviser of OHS Magnet, the school’s newspaper. Wagner was also named Owatonna’s Teacher of the Year last May.
Wagner has a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato in secondary education/English and communications and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Southwest State University at Marshall.
Markham, who is a second grade teacher at Medford Elementary School, did not respond to our request for comments.
Four Minnesotans have become National Teacher of the Year, including Roger Tenney of Owatonna in 1966.