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RAHS English teacher a finalist for MN Teacher of the Year
For the second time in as many years, a Roseville educator is a finalist for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year award.
Roseville Area High School English teacher Charity Przepiora is one of 11 finalists for the 2017 award, presented by Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers union.
Originally from Glyndon, Minnesota, near Moorhead, Przepiora says she found her way to teaching when it dawned on her the road to becoming a veterinarian might not be for her.
“I realized my grades weren’t good enough to make it into vet school,” she jokes, pointing out that two years into her pre-vet studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, she wasn’t enjoying the science-heavy curriculum.
She says she switched her major to English, and ended up volunteering at a school in Columbia Heights. “I realized [teaching] is pretty cool — I dig this.”
“It was not a life-long dream,” Przepiora says of teaching, which she’s
one at RAHS, and only RAHS, for 16 years. “I discovered my skill set later.”
To become a finalist for Teacher of the Year, Przepiora made a video in which she discussed an element of education that’s important to her.
“I believe it’s essential to close the opportunity gap through developing critical thinking skills,” she says of what she talked about in her video.
This includes teaching a curriculum in schools that covers “absent narratives,” representing students of color and other marginalized groups, and “fostering empathetic relationships rather than distrust and fear.”
Przepiora says relationships are vital to her job.
That fact hit her hard on April 7, she says, when in the same hour that she found out she was a finalist for Teacher of the Year, she also learned a former student of hers was lost to gun violence.
“It kind of shows the depth that these relationships can go,” Przepiora says of the young woman who was recently shot and killed. “I wasn’t her best friend, I would never say that ... but there’s a lasting impact.”
“When you do this work really well, the highs are very high and the lows are very low,” she says, adding, “It really is an example of what this job is really like.”
Outside the classroom
Though she never became a veterinarian, Przepiora, who lives in St. Paul with her husband Brent, owns a horse and keeps honeybees.
“I find a lot of solace and focus working with her,” she says of her horse, Charlie.
As for the beekeeping, Przepiora says she has a colony at her house, and more colonies at the home of a friend who is a science teacher at RAHS — thankfully, she points out, all their bees made it through the winter.
Przepiora says “that’s not even fair” when asked about her personal favorite when it comes to books; her favorite book to teach, she says, is “Flight” by Sherman Alexie.
Last year, Central Park Elementary School first-grade teacher Maria Le was a finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year.
Przepiora will find out if she’s the state’s Teacher of the Year May 7 at a banquet in Bloomington.
Each state winner is put in the running for the national award. Though District 623 has never produced a National Teacher of the Year, Roseville has done well in previous years at the state level.
According to Education Minnesota’s website, teacher Theodore Molitor won for Roseville in 1969; Denneth Dvergsten did it in 1975; Judy McCleery did so in 1986, and Roseville’s most recent Minnesota Teacher of the Year was Maureen Sanger, named in 1988.
Mike Munzenrider can be reached at email@example.com or 651-748-7813.