Sandmeyer named Nevis Teacher of the Year

Jodi Sandmeyer received her Teacher of the Year Award from Nevis teacher union presidents Paul Schroeder and Melinda Crimmins. (submitted photo)

Jodi Sandmeyer was chosen by her peers as teacher of the year at Nevis School.

This is her 27th year teaching at Nevis.

“I am honored to be chosen,” she said.

Sandmeyer began her teaching career at Nevis, and although she commutes 60 miles each way to work, she liked it in Nevis so much that is where she chose to stay.

“I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in sixth grade, and math has always been a strength for me, so I decided to teach high school mathematics,” she said.


Sandmeyer earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Bemidji State University. She also earned principal, superintendent and sixth-year degrees at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, gifted and talented certification at the University of California at Irvine and a doctorate degree in education at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

Sandmeyer currently teaches both math and science. She also served as principal from 2002 to 2010.

“The biggest change I have seen over the years is in technology,” Sandmeyer said. “I was the first teacher to get student computers in my classroom.”

Sandmeyer said Nevis School has given her many opportunities to grow as a teacher.

“Having started the Nevis Robotics team, math league team, and Nevis Special Olympics team with the unified partners, it is great to work in a district that encourages and supports staff trying new things,” she said. “The district has supported all of these ventures.”

Sharing her love of travel

Sandmeyer has an adventurous spirit and has shared her love of travel with her students. “I have taken students on trips to Russia, Peru, Costa Rica, and twice to Germany-Austria,” she said. “I love taking students on trips.”

Former students have shared how much these trips meant to them.

“There is a big world beyond Nevis,” Sandmeyer said. “Many students have never flown and some have never left the state of Minnesota.”


In addition to the international trips, Sandmeyer has coordinated trips to Washington, D.C, New York, Florida, Chicago and the West Coast.

Changes through the years

When Sandmeyer started teaching at Nevis, the school was a single section but now every grade is divided into two sections.

When she started teaching, chalkboards were used daily. “They were replaced with white boards, then with SmartBoards,” Sandmeyer said. “Now, each room has speakers and cameras so we can Zoom with students, allowing us to teach remotely.”

Most kids today have smartphones. “Kids didn't have phones when I first started,” she said. “Very few staff had a phone. I had a bag phone with the cords because my husband was worried about me traveling back and forth to work in the winter. Technology has changed, styles have changed, but kids are kids. Most kids want to learn and want to graduate.”

Connecting with students

Sandmeyer said working with kids is what she enjoys most about her job. “When I was principal, I really missed the positive interactions with students,” she said. “I like helping students and seeing them succeed. I like exploring new ideas, thoughts and places with them. I truly like being with teenagers.”

Sandmeyer explained that helping students reach their goals is a team effort. “Every staff member touches a student in some way,” she said. “As an academic advisor I talk to students about their future options and help them with college applications and scholarships. As a teacher, I challenge students to be their best, to stretch themselves. It is taking the time to get to know the students, what they need and how I can help. The goal is for the student to soar, and different staff have different connections. It truly takes a village to raise a child. Students need to find their passion and follow their hearts.”

Challenges during COVID-19

Sandmeyer said the pandemic has created extra challenges for teachers.

“I haven’t been able to help as many students as I would like,” she said. “I feel helpless sometimes. I can't walk into a room and check on a student or take them for a few minutes and help them. The computer is a divide. Sometimes I wish I didn't care so much. But I promised myself that when I quit caring it was time to quit teaching. I want students to do well. I want to help them. But it is much more difficult to teach through Zoom. It is hard to make those personal connections. However, we all keep going and we are doing our best. But, given a choice, I want to be with kids, in the same room, working directly with them. I want to see them smile again.”


Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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