Cowern teacher nominated for Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Julie Swanson is among 113 other candidates nominated to be the 52nd Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

 Candidates for the award include pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and adult basic education teachers from public and private schools.

To be eligible, a teacher must have at least a bachelor’s degree, a Minnesota teaching license, completed at least three years of teaching and the intention to continue teaching. 

Swanson teaches third grade at Cowern Elementary School, and has been teaching for 17 years. She received a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and a master’s in education from the University of St. Thomas.

Swanson’s favorite part of teaching is connecting with her students and their families. Establishing a trusting connection is so important to her that she visits her new students at home over the summer, often having dinner with their families. During the school year, she supports her students by attending their sporting events and musical performances. 

“They need to know you care about them as an individual,” Swanson said.

By involving her students’ individual interests with their studies, Swanson is able to inspire them to succeed in the classroom.

It was her own individual interests as a student that convinced her she should pursue a career in teaching.

“I was an athlete, and I very much respected and looked up to my coaches, and they were teachers,” she said.

She coached high school girls basketball for 15 years, and became varsity head coach for White Bear Lake, her hometown.

“[I] eventually decided to devote all of my teaching to the classroom,” she said.

Last year, Swanson was a semifinalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year award.

Over the coming weeks, a 25-member panel of community leaders will select this year’s semifinalists and eventually finalists from portfolios the candidates created. The 2016 Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be announced Sunday, May 15, at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington. 

Once selected, the Minnesota Teacher of the Year becomes an advocate for education and spokesperson for teachers. He or she also becomes Minnesota’s candidate for National Teacher of the Year.


Aundrea Kinney can be reached at or at 651-748-7822. 



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