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Halbrehder nominated for Minnesota Teacher of the Year
When former Tartan Activities Director Lee Alger heard the news that a Tartan coach and physical education teacher had been nominated as a possible candidate for Minnesota Teacher of the Year, his response was, “Wow! That’s great! That’s not at all bad for a phy ed teacher. It’s well deserved.”
For nominee Barb Halbrehder it is “very rewarding” to be nominated.
This year there were 135 initial nominees — the most since 2005 – and Halbrehder was the lone District 622 nominee.
The list has been narrowed down to 39 semifinalists, and will eventually be cut down to five candidates by a 25-member panel of community leaders. The “2013 Minnesota Teacher of the Year” will be named from those five May 5 at the Marriott Minneapolis Northwest.
Then that person will embark on a year of speaking engagements, meetings with peers, parents and legislators and other activities to represent the best teaching has to offer around the state.
A classroom background
A nomination from a student, parent, peer or supervisor is just the first step. After being nominated, each nominee must put together a portfolio to submit to the committee.
Halbrehder needed to compile five sets of recommendations from people who knew her well.
In addition, she said she was given a writing assignment: to write a pair of essays about herself. “Talking about me is not something that comes easy,” she chuckled.
In the essays she had to describe her philosophy of education and offer a message on education to convey to colleagues and the public what she values as an educator.
“It is a daunting and challenging experience,” she said.
However, getting up in front of a room full of students almost seemed ordained for Halbrehder. “I come from a family of teachers,” she explained. “My grandfather was a principal. My mother and my father were both teachers. I knew what I wanted to be when I was 10 years old.”
Halbrehder attended elementary and secondary school in School District 622. She is a graduate of Tartan High School – which gives her the opportunity to share credit for the educator nomination. “Being a former graduate of Tartan, I consider it a huge honor.”
Halbrehder noted her peers as a great source of wisdom and support over the years. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with several great colleagues. There have been people like Mark Woodcock, Curt Russell, Tim Hickey and Mark Klingsporn. It has been times of many laughs and some great camaraderie.”
“I’ve been fortunate to work under several great administrators,” she added. She listed former principals Larry Hartman, Dr. John Bisek, and present Tartan Principal Adam Ehrmantraut.
Of Ehrmantraut, she said, “He’s a lot like a little of each of the other two.”
It was Ehrmantraut who nominated Halbrehder as a “Teacher of the Year” candidate.
He said, “I nominated her in part because of her philosophical view on education. She is at the front end of educational thinking. She is always pushing the envelope for educational change and improvement. She is very ‘kid-oriented.’ There isn’t a kid she can’t influence in a positive way.
“She has recently been involved in a process for the development of a ‘Teacher Growth Model,’” he added. “It is a process and a cornerstone for teacher improvement.”
Ehrmantraut is confident Halbrehder’s talents will benefit not just this district but others as she helps craft the program. “She is a natural leader and is widely respected. Her influence is far reaching, not only in this district, but is widely respected beyond this district. I knew about her before I came here.”
A colleague and teacher at Tartan— former football and wrestling coach Tim Hickey, who now heads up the Tartan weight room – says he’s benefited from knowing Halbrehder.
“I’ve worked with her for 25 years and have known her since high school. She still gives me insight. She cares about kids. She works extremely hard at her craft and is a diligent, conscientious teacher.”
Hickey says generations of students have found “She is strict, but very fair.”
He also notes that it can be an uphill battle for teachers in areas outside the regular classroom to make the short list for education honors. “She represents a discipline that is commonly overlooked and deserves this recognition.”
Kept coming back
After graduating from Tartan, Halbrehder studied education at the University of Minnesota. She began her teaching career in School District 622 in the 1981-82 school year.
She was a substitute teacher for a few years, “I bounced back and forth for a while,” she chuckled.
Then, in 1990, she was hired to teach at Tartan. The halls felt like home even though she was there in a different role, and she never left. “I hope to stay here until I retire,” she said.
Retirement could be a possibility for Halbrehder. She could qualify for retirement under the “Rule of 90” – adding her age to her number of years teaching. But she’s not ready to consider leaving just yet.
During the course of her career, in addition to teaching physical education from 1990 to the present at Tartan, she began the girls’ hockey program when North and Tartan fielded a joint team from 1993-1995. She then took over the reins as girls’ hockey coach at Tartan from 1995-2000.
She has also been an assistant girls’ track and field coach at both Tartan and North.
She’s also served, along with her husband Bill, as the women’s hockey coach at Augsburg College, from 2000-2005.
At the time Halbrehder was in high school, hockey wasn’t offered to girls, and even “ringette” was another 15 years coming.
But in the fields open to her, she made her mark – and then some.
On the track team, Halbrehder set records in the 100-yard hurdles and the 180-yard low hurdles.
Over the years, the yards have been converted to meters, but the records still stand.
Halbrehder has also participated on a woman’s hockey team — since 1981 — until she decided last year to just cheer them on from the stands.
Praise pours in
While Barb Halbrehder may find it difficult to talk about herself, many others throughout the district and the educational region could go on at length. As the word gets out about Halbrehder’s nomination, the kudos are coming in.
Former Tartan principal John Bisek said recently, “I have sent her a letter of congratulations. She is an excellent candidate and is very worthy of the honor.”