Andover High School social studies teacher Dan Bordwell has been named a candidate for Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year award.
He’s joined by 131 other teachers statewide as candidates for the prestigious award, which is organized by Education Minnesota, the 70,000-member statewide educators union.
Bordwell is taking his candidacy in stride, saying it’s affirming to be up for the award, but that his candidacy reflects upon his colleagues as much as it does him.
“It's nice to be recognized for the work that I've done, but teaching is not an individual or isolated event and there are a lot of people who have contributed to how I think about teaching and how that translates into what I do professionally,” he said.
One of the things Bordwell said he takes most pride in is authentically caring for his students and their success both as students and emerging adults.
“I try to make the classroom a space where (students) want to be, want to have fun, and want to do their best,” Bordwell said. “I am a reflective person and when a lesson or class does not go as well as I hoped, I work to make it better the next time I teach it.”
His work as an educator isn’t limited to his classroom at Andover. Bordwell is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota and he works with future social studies teachers where they examine the purpose of the field and its importance and need in the world.
“Working with them helps me remember why I wanted to teach in the first place and the need for great teachers,” Bordwell said.
At this point, most people don’t know Bordwell is a candidate for the award, he said. He hasn’t told his students, and hasn’t really discussed it with colleagues. But that may change if he moves forward in the process.
According to Education Minnesota, sometime in the next couple weeks, a 25-member panel of community leaders from around the state will whittle the 132 candidates down to a much smaller a group of semifinalists, and then finalists. Then on May 7, the 2017 Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be announced at a banquet at the Radisson Blu Mall of America.
And while it’s possible he’ll move on, Bordwell remains grounded. “It's a nice honor, but I would rather have a student come up to me, whether it be in class or three years later, and tell me how something we did (in class) helped them,” he said. “That aha moment is more important to me.”
This isn’t the first time an Anoka-Hennepin teacher has been up for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Last year Blaine High School teacher Steve Drewlo, Monroe Elementary School teacher Nathan Elliott, Coon Rapids High School teacher Tony Hirte and Adult Basic Education teacher Donna Escobedo were named candidates for the award.
This year’s program will name the 53rd Minnesota Teacher of the Year, celebrating the tradition of excellence in teaching in Minnesota. Candidates include pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade and Adult Basic Education teachers, from public or private schools.