Teacher of the Year has ‘heart of gold’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2001

"She is such a nurturing person.

Thursday, May 10, 2001

"She is such a nurturing person. She has a heart of gold."

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With those words, last year’s Teacher of the Year recipient, Katie Ulwelling, passed the torch to this year’s winner, Margaret "Margo" Bissen. Actually, she passed Bissen a plaque, which formally named her as the Austin Education Association’s Teacher of the Year.

Ulwelling is a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing in the Austin School District. Bissen is a kindergarten through fifth-grade teacher at Sumner Elementary.

Bissen has spent her entire teaching career – since 1977 – in Austin. Prior to working at Sumner, she worked at Banfield, for early childhood family education and for St. Augustine, St. Edward and Queen of Angels schools. She obtained her education for teaching music from St. Norbert College in DePere, Wis.

Bissen was chosen as Teacher of the Year by a committee of the Austin Education Association. She is now the representative for the 300 teachers in the district, as she goes on to the next round of the selection process.

Besides being a busy teacher, Bissen is married to husband Dan and is the mother of six children: Meigan, Ray, Tony, Tim, Mary and Molly.

According to information provided by the Austin Education Association, "The Minnesota Teacher of the Year program is the oldest and most prestigious program in Minnesota to recognize excellence in teaching. The program honors representatives of successful teachers throughout Minnesota, while choosing one teacher to serve as an advocate for education."

Bissen will have to do a little homework before moving to the next step in the process. Each teacher of the year must submit a resume, an explanation of their philosophy of teaching, letters of recommendation, an explanation as to how they will serve as an ambassador of educators and examples of artwork or awards produced or received.

Teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree and a Minnesota teaching licensure to qualify for a nomination. They must have taught for three full years and be scheduled to teach in the 2001-2002 school year.

"It’s exciting. It’s very exciting," Bissen said, prior to receiving the award. She also said she felt "humbled," "honored" and "a little apprehensive" about the rest of the selection process. Twenty individuals will narrow down the applications to 25 Teachers of Excellence. Of those 25, a group of Honor Roll teachers will be selected.

The Minnesota Teacher of the Year comes from the list of Honor Roll teachers and will be named at a banquet on Oct. 14, at the Radisson Hotel South in Bloomington, Minn. The winner will receive $3,000 in honorariums, a computer and a plaque. Honor Roll teachers, to be named in August, will receive $200 in honorariums and a plaque. The Teachers of Excellence, to be named in July, will receive an award.

When her students discovered she had won from some other teachers at Sumner, Bissen said they gave her an ovation. "I love them all dearly," she said of her students.