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STEP teacher wins BestPrep Educator of the Year Award

Kathy Vaughn accepts award at BestPrep Luncheon(05/12/2022) Anoka-Hennepin Secondary Technical Education Program (STEP) teacher Kathy Vaughn’s goal in teaching has always been to help prepare students for their lives after graduation. On May 9 she was rewarded for her dedication to student success, as she was selected for the 2022 BestPrep Carpenter Educator of the Year Award and honored at BestPrep’s Annual Luncheon.

Vaughn has been teaching for 34 years, with 16 of those being in Anoka-Hennepin. At STEP, she teaches classes in business administration and creative design within the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program, which she helped guide the curriculum plan for. 

When hearing the news of the award she said she was “surprised and honored.”

“I’ve always loved being a teacher,” Vaughn said. “To watch the students get excited about what their future could be is the best thing to see in class. The more they can see what it is like in industry, the better choices they can make about both college and career.”

Each year, the BestPrep staff selects an educator to receive the Carpenter Educator of the Year Award. This award is given in memory of Joan Carpenter, who was an elementary school teacher in the Robbinsdale School District for more than 25 years and a passionate BestPrep advocate.  

Vaughn has utilized BestPrep programs in her classroom for about 18 years to help connect the students with people in different industries. She utilizes BestPrep’s online mentoring program, eMentors, every year and also invites speakers into her classroom on various career topics. Vaughn has also used the Stock Market Game to educate her finance students. 

According to BestPrep, she was selected because staff were “impressed with her positive energy and focus on high-quality experiential learning opportunities. It's obvious that she has been an extremely committed teacher over the years and continues to be so.”

“I think their programs are great, and they introduce industry to the students,” Vaughn said of BestPrep. “My goal has always been to teach my students what it's going to be like in their careers. I’m really focused on helping them find their path.”

BestPrep is a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preparing students with business, career, and financial literacy skills. BestPrep offers seven innovative programs and has served more than 1.7 million students and teachers since its creation in 1976. Teachers can learn more about how to incorporate BestPrep into their classrooms at

Kathy Vaughn in her classroom with her award