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VFW honors Mehl and Becker with 'Teacher of the Year' awards

Pictured at the award presentation, from left to right: Michael Tast, Wadena VFW Commander; Holly Becker, Jeff Mehl, and Jim White, VFW Teacher of the Year Committee Chair. Louis Rutten/WDC Schools

The Wadena VFW Post #3922 honored Wadena-Deer Creek third-grade teacher Jeff Mehl and high school math teacher Holly Becker with its "Citizenship Education Teacher of the Year" award on March 16.

Wadena VFW Commander Michael Tast and Wadena VFW Citizen Education Teacher award chair Jim White presented both teachers with their local awards at their meeting. The award recognized these teachers for their efforts in educating students about the importance of integrity, character and becoming good citizens.

WDC School Board vice chair Jil Fiemeyer nominated Mehl for his award. In her nomination, Fiemeyer praised Mehl for stressing the importance of compassion, patience and willingness to help students at WDC Elementary—especially with her own daughters, Katie and Anna.

"Two of my girls have been lucky enough to have had Jeff as their third-grade teacher. Jeff had my Katie in his classroom when she was struggling with finding her place in this world after her sister died. His compassion, patience and willingness to walk beside both of my girls in their journey are something this momma will never forget. Jeff and Holly are awesome teachers and beautiful humans, but I doubt either one of these amazing teachers realize just how deeply they positively impact their students," Fiemeyer said.

Since 2005, Mehl has taught at WDC Elementary. He and his wife, Amy, who teaches elementary special education at WDC, have a daughter, Emma, an eighth-grader.

Mehl said he is very honored to receive the VFW Citizenship Education award from the local Wadena VFW.

"I am very honored to have received this award and would like to thank Jimmy White, Michael Tast and the rest of VFW Post 3922. I would also like to thank Jil Fiemeyer for the very humbling nomination. I feel very blessed to have taught the past 18 years here at WDC and have been fortunate to work with so many wonderful children, parents and fellow teachers alike. WDC is truly a great place to teach and I am very honored to be a small part of all the wonderful things that take place here," Mehl said.

WDC School Board chair Kent Schmidt nominated Holly Becker for the VFW award because she's not only an "amazing algebra teacher but a fun and passionate person who goes above and beyond what is necessary."

"She constantly takes considerable amounts of time after hours to help students better understand math. ... She is always positive and makes everyone around her a better student or person. Holly definitely makes a difference," Schmidt said in his nomination.

Becker has been a high school math teacher for 11 years. She also serves as the school's cheerleader coach. She and her husband, Trent, who works at the Freshwater Education District in Deer Creek, have a daughter Braelyn.

In addition to her local award, Becker also won at the district level. She said she is overwhelmed and humbled to receive this honor, at both the local and district level.

"I absolutely love being a teacher, so being named a 'Teacher of the Year' is such a humbling feeling and such an honor. Thank you to Kent Schmidt for nominating me for this amazing award," Becker said.

Becker will accept her district award on April 28 in Sauk Centre.