“Nice job. It’s coming along nicely,” said Lisa Weniger to her seventh and eighth grade band students as a note of praise after finishing the piece, “Celtic Dance.”

As she congratulated students on recent bowling scores and spelling bee wins before class, Weniger is herself receiving abundant congratulations with her nomination for Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

When Weniger opened her envelope from Education Minnesota in November she thought it contained routine information relating to her position as an executive board member for WDC. To her surprise, the letter was a teacher of the year nomination.

“I opened it up and I’m going, ‘Who would do this to me?’ (Laughs) I was really kind of shocked,” Weniger said.

With 400 teachers nominated, 134 accepted the nomination after completing homework of their own, according to Weniger and an Education Minnesota news release. The homework included five recommendation letters, two essays and a resume.

“It’s really quite humbling to have a person in our community and involved in our school to see those things that you do and to nominate you for that honor,” Weniger said.

With this honor, Weniger’s portfolio, along with fellow nominated teachers, will be reviewed by a panel of 25 community leaders who then decide semi-finalists and finalists, according to the Education Minnesota news release.

“There are so many good teachers in our school and to see the list that’s from Education Minnesota … there are a lot of great teachers … It’s kind of humbling,” Weniger said.

The Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be announced at a banquet on May 3 in St. Paul.