Kristen Poehler has been named the 2018-19 Education Minnesota teacher of the year for Park Rapids Area Schools.
Currently a second grade teacher at Century Elementary School, Poehler is in her fifth school year in Park Rapids, where she has also taught kindergarten and third grade.
Originally from Ada, she graduated from Ada-Borup High School, studied at Mayville State University and finished her Bachelor of Science in elementary education at Minnesota State University Moorhead. She completed a master's degree in education last year through Southwest State University.
"My first job out of college was a 3-year-old classroom in West Fargo, N.D.," she said. "After a year of that, I moved to Fosston to try kindergarten. Back then, it was part-time, so I only had students every other day. I learned a lot there."
For six years, Poehler taught in Alaska, teaching first and third grade. After having their twins, she and her husband, Zach, decided to move closer to family. This brought them to Park Rapids.
"We enjoy spending time outdoors and getting to know the people of Park Rapids," said Poehler. "The atmosphere of this community is amazing to bring up our family."
Kindergarten teacher Rebecca Penning nominated Poehler for the award with a testimonial that said, in part, that Poehler is "constantly learning, trying new things and working to be the best teacher for her students."
Further, Penning wrote, Poehler "is selfless and wants the best for her team and our school. Her willingness to promote our school through family-oriented activities has already made such an impact. She continues to teach students the most important things and constantly gives them chances to shine."
Calling her a "truly remarkable human," Penning added that Poehler uses student-led conferences to teach responsibility and to show parents their children's strengths.
Poehler called the award a "total surprise" and added, "I feel honored ...and am completely humbled by it. The teaching staff I work with has been extremely helpful and I really enjoy the camaraderie that all of us teachers have here."
She also gave credit to the teachers who mentored her along the way and the patience and understanding of her two sons, Alex and Chase.
"I love what I do and cannot imagine another career," said Poehler. "I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had. All the students, families and coworkers that have crossed my path have left a lasting imprint on my life."
Previous teacher of the year winners include Shelli Walsh, Gina Porozinski, Peg DeYoung, Angie Kuehn, Connie Fondow, Aarin Galzki, Vicki Hanson, Molly Aukes, Jill Stevenson, Laurie Conzemius, Joe Grimes, Kerry Johnson, Mike Cool, Lisa Coborn and LouAnn Dierkhising.