Sourcewell celebrates area Educators of Excellence

The event recognized and awarded local educators who positively impact students and colleagues.

Teachers who were honored as Educators of Excellence.
More than 50 educators from 21 local school districts were honored May 3, 2023, as Educators of Excellence. The celebration was held at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School.
Contributed / Sourcewell

BRAINERD — More than 50 educators from schools in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties were selected by school administration for outstanding dedication, hard work and leadership. For their achievements, they were then celebrated as Educators of Excellence at a special event May 3 at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School.

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The event recognized and awarded local educators who positively impact students and colleagues. In addition to individual Educators of Excellence awards, leaders, paraprofessionals, a coach, team, support staff, and silver lining awards of excellence were also named and recognized.

A new addition to the program this year was the recognition of the 2023 Innovator of the Year, awarded by the Innovative Schools Project to Pequot Lakes elementary teacher Deanne Trottier.

Bertha-Hewitt first grade teacher Jared Hoemberg was among those honored at the event as an Educator of Excellence.

“It was amazing to be surrounded by educators who care so deeply about kids in our area,” Hoemberg said in a news release. “To be recognized with some of the very best was humbling and significant. The ultimate winner of the evening was the kids, knowing that they are receiving a top-notch education from people that love what they do.”


Hoemberg said he was also touched by the fact that the trophies given to the Educators of Excellence were created by students from his district in the NextGen Bears program .

“To see our kids innovate and create something meaningful to many is incredibly special. The NextGen Bears has grown tremendously the past few years, creating countless projects. A huge shoutout has to go to our Superintendent Eric Koep for playing a big part in starting the program. I am very proud to say I grew up, work, and am from Bertha-Hewitt.”

In addition to Bertha-Hewitt, educators from the following districts were honored: Brainerd, Cass Lake-Bena, Crosby-Ironton, Freshwater, Little Falls, Menahga, Mid-State, Northland Community, Pequot Lakes, Pierz, Pillager, Pine River-Backus, Royalton, Sebeka, Staples-Motley, Swanville, Upsala, Verndale, Wadena-Deer Creek, and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

The Educators of Excellence celebration was broadcast live on Facebook for the general public and is available for viewing on Sourcewell’s Facebook page .

Local Educators of Excellence included: Tammy Stellmach, Baxter Elementary School; Tracy Voigt, Pierz District Office; Bryan Syrstad, Crosby-Ironton High School; Cley Twigg Crosby-Ironton High School; Deanne Trottier, Eagle View Elementary School in Pequot Lakes; Kacee Barrett, Baxter Elementary School; Jessica Johnson, Lowell Elementary School; Katie Kraft, Brainerd High School; Heather Larson, Garfield Elementary School; Lisa Miller, Nisswa Elementary School; Tracy Riley, Lincoln Education Center; Marti Sauer, Harrison Elementary School; Kami Berg, Cuyuna Range Elementary School; Andrew Dirks, Crosby-Ironton High School; Rebecca Jones, Dr. S.G. Knight Elementary School in Little Falls; Heidi Lange, Lincoln Elementary School in Little Falls; Julie Roesch, Lindbergh Elementary School in Little Falls; Tanya Bergman, Little Falls Community Middle School; Mike Kaluza, Little Falls Community High School; Rachel Gerhartz, Eagle View Elementary in Pequot Lakes; Sherry Pape, Pequot Lakes Middle School; Joanna O’Neil, Pequot Lakes High School; Gwen Gruber, Pierz Healy High School; Aaron Schmidtbauer, Pioneer Elementary School in Pierz; Penny Grimsley, Pillager Elementary School; Tatum Sheley, Pillager Middle School; Jamie Prax, Pillager High School; Erica Norman, Pine River-Backus Elementary School; Katie Verschelde, Pine River-Backus High School; Heather Wiegand, Staples-Motley Elementary School; Erik Johnson Staples-Motley Middle/High School.

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