May 13, 2004 at 9:30 a.m.
Teacher of the Year candidates for consideration were submitted by students, parents and the general public through nomination forms sent home with students, printed in the paper and available at district offices.
An interview committee ranked five finalists selected from the general list of nominations.
The committee met with the finalists May 4 and the scoring results favored Allen Schulte.
As Teacher of the Year Schulte represents the school district in the state program, and could be competing for national Teacher of the Year to be named in 2005.
The Chisago Lakes Teacher of the Year selection system is organized by teachers Tom Tengwall and Deitz Dittrich. Selection committee members included a school board director, a principal (not directly supervising any finalist), a student’s parent, a district court judge, local pastor and a newspaper editor.
Allen Schulte has been teaching seventh grade American History and American Studies in the Chisago Lakes District nine years. He grew up west of the Twin Cities, in the Chaska area.
He has three sections of students and he said he finds humor everyday in his classroom. He also said it’s important to be able to laugh at himself and his mistakes. He pointed out, “Teaching American History in these times can be a serious matter, but a touch of laughter can be the best technique for gaining and reinforcing knowledge.”
On a serious note, though, Schulte shared his concerns about negative effects of the federally mandated No Child Left Behind requirements. He explained that, “...teaching creativity, teaching problem solving, teaching cooperative teaming, teaching students to develop as lifelong learners..there is no standardized test for these.”
A typical 7th grader gets two days of MAP tests in the fall, and two days in spring. MCA (Minnesota Comprehensive Analysis) tests take two days. Students are consistently “pulled out” of class for reading proficiency and math tests. Schulte hopes the results (scores) don’t generate frustration, boredom and student resentment. “As schools become increasingly focused on tests, prep for tests and on the scores, we inevitably pay less attention to areas already in critical need such as arts, social studies and physical education,” he mentioned.
For hobbies, Schulte said he enjoys participating in Renaissance Festival events and he plays adult basketball. In extra-curricular programming he is involved in History Day; a competition that gets students to create documentaries, displays and research papers, even write their own plays-- to present a historical theme topic.
Schulte also teaches mini-courses at the middle school that include track & field skills, photography, weightlifting and a mock trial class he calls fairy tales on trial.
As was mentioned in the first paragraph-- Brenda Schulte, a 7th and 8th grade reading instructor, was one of the finalists. Additional finalists were Brenda Schell, communications and social studies at the middle school; 3rd grade Primary School instructor Carrie Fredstrom, and middle school special education instructor Dana Wagner.
Among the requirements for even being nominated is at least five years of teaching experience.