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        Page 4                                                                                                 Electronic Edition:

                  Four Teachers Earn LEEA Honors

        Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District
            Four  teachers  have  been  recognized
        as  exemplary  educators  and  leaders  among
        their peers by the buffalo-Hanover-Montrose
        School District.
            Each was named a Leadership in Educa-
        tional Excellence Awardee at the annual LEEA
        banquet and Award Ceremony in St. Cloud on
        Oct. 25.
            Those honored include Northwinds Ele-
        mentary  School  kindergarten  teacher  Katie
        Deneen,  buffalo  Community  Middle  School
        math  teacher  Natalie  Johnson,  buffalo  High
        School health/physical education teacher Josh
        Ortmann,  and  Discovery  Elementary  School
        kindergarten teacher Kimarie Tacke.          Natalie Johnson                      Josh Ortmann                        Kimarie Tacke
                                               The  seed  of  an  idea  that  eventually   Ortmann is in his 12th year of teaching,   For  Tacke,  the  recognition  is  a  fitting
                                            sprouted into Johnson’s 23-year local teaching   and also serves as the head coach of the bHS   finale to 40 years in the classroom, including
                                            career was planted early.           boys  basketball  team  –  the  squad  that  as  a   27 years with bHM Schools.
                                               “As  a  student,  I  saw  the  difference  the   student he once helped lead to its first and only   “This is my last year teaching, which has
                                            right teacher could make in a person’s life,”   state championship.    caused  me  to  reflect  back  over  my  career,”
                                            she said. “I wanted to become a math teacher   “Outside  of  my  parents  and  family,  the   Tacke  said.  “I  have  never  shied  away  from
                                            because I find joy in helping others.”  people who had the greatest impact on me with   leadership  opportunities  if  it  meant  I  could
                                               bCMS  Principal  Matt  Lubben  said   who I am as a person today were my teach-  make things better for students, teachers and
                                            Johnson  is  frequently  mentioned  when  stu-  ers and coaches,” Ortmann said. “Having that   the school system at large. I am proud of the
                                            dents talk about favorite teachers, and she is   same  opportunity  to  try  and  give  back  and   initiatives I have been involved with to do just
                                            a standout in her ability to connect theoretical   positively  impact  the  students  that  walk  our   that. This award is such a nice honor to wrap
                                            classroom exercises to real-life scenarios.  hallways at bHS makes this the greatest job   up my career.”
                                               “I  thrive  on  finding  ways  to  best  help   there is.”              Discovery  Principal  Mat  Nelson  said
                                            my  students  learn  math  in  a  fun  and  mean-  because  of  his  classroom  and  coaching   Tacke is “more than deserving” of the recogni-
                                            ingful way so they will see the important role   connections with all ages of students at bHS,   tion.
                                            its  understanding  will  have  in  their  future,”   Principal Mark Mischke said Ortmann is well-  “She cares deeply about her students as
                   Katie Deneen             Johnson said. “I find it so rewarding to watch   positioned to lead in exactly that way.  learners  and  people,  and  meticulously  main-
            Deneen has taught for 30 years, including   my  students  grow  and  achieve  success  after   “So  many  people  get  to  see  him  and   tains  a  safe  classroom  learning  environment
        17 at bHM Schools.                  learning  hard  work  and  perseverance  when   interact  with  him,  and  they  walk  away  in  a   to maximize academic, social, and emotional
            “I  have  always  wanted  to  be  a  teacher   problem-solving.”    better spot than they were before they spent   growth,” Nelson said. “Ms. Tacke exemplifies
        for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I   Johnson  is  also  a  leader  among  the   time with him. So I think his ability to influ-  what the highest quality teacher should be and
        wanted to create a classroom that is welcom-  eighth-grade math department members.  ence is very noticeable in a very positive way,”   demonstrates so much care and skill in every-
        ing  to  every  student  who  walks  through  the   “Our staff absolutely loves Natalie, and   Mischke said. “If you think about describing   thing she engages in. We are thankful to have
        doors  and  to  make  lasting  connections  with   the kids too,” said Lubben. “She’s always pos-  a  teacher  you  would  want  to  have  to  start  a   her on our team at Discovery Elementary!”
        each of them.”                      itive  and  smiling,  and  makes  kids  feel  good   school, Josh would be one of those people.”  Coming  from  a  long  family  tradition
            Northwinds Principal Carmen Tubbs said   about themselves. She’s been a great fit for our   That may be, but Ortmann sees more of a   of  teaching,  the  role  has  come  naturally  for
        Deneen  has  been  successful  in  that  regard,   school and just a real strong leader both aca-  team accomplishment in the very meaningful   Tacke.
        building strong relationships with students and   demically and culturally.”  individual honor he has received.  “There are definitely things about my job
        their families, and also serves as “a positive   From Johnson’s point of view, the high   “This award really doesn’t have much to   that bring me joy!” she said. “Most of those
        leader,  mentor  and  support  for  fellow  col-  regard from her peers is mutual.  do with me as much as it does the people that I   things have to do with the students and all their
        leagues.”                              “I am so humbled to receive this honor   am surrounded with,” he said. “We have great   personalities and learning styles. I have been
            Seeing joy on the faces of her students,   because  I  work  in  a  building  filled  with   leadership here at bHS and have a PE/health   able  to  develop  life-long  relationships  with
        whether  from  simple  excitement  about  their   amazing teachers who all have a passion for   department that genuinely wants nothing but   students and parents/families. I also love the
        subject matter or from the satisfaction of hard   helping children and who are just as deserv-  the best for each and every student that comes   creative outlet I have in the classroom.”
        work that yields success, is Deneen’s favorite   ing,” she said.        into our classes. This award is a recognition
        aspect of the job.                                                      of the hard work that we all are putting fourth
            “I get to go into work every day and am                             together  on  a  daily  basis  to  try  and  create
        surrounded by amazing people who constantly                             an  environment  where  every  student  feels  a
        inspire me,” Deneen said. “I am honored to be                           strong sense of belonging.”
        recognized  as  someone  who  inspires  others
        and humbled to be receiving this award.”

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