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Wadena-Deer Creek teachers honored as Educators of Excellence

More than 50 educators from 21 local school districts were honored as Educators of Excellence at a celebratory event at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School on May 3, 2023.

Sara Lenz
Sara Lenz is a Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School teacher who was recognized at Sourcewell’s Educators of Excellence Celebration at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.
Contributed / Sourcewell

BRAINERD — Wadena-Deer Creek teachers Sara Lenz and Lynn Quincer were recognized recently at Sourcewell’s Educators of Excellence Celebration.

More than 50 educators from schools in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties were selected by school administration for their “dedication, hard work and leadership” and celebrated Wednesday, May 3, at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School.

“Sara mentors new paraprofessionals and is a master scheduler extraordinaire with her focus solely on what’s best for kids,” Sourcewell Director of Regional Programs Paul Drange said before congratulating Lenz on stage at the awards ceremony.

Lenz, an elementary school teacher, epitomizes the school's motto of “Building a Legacy of Excellence … One Student at a Time,” according to the program for the invitation-only event.

“She demonstrates her continuous improvement as an excellent educator by always learning and sharing with her colleagues,” Drange said.

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Kassidy Rice and Sara Lenz stand together on stage at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School
Kassidy Rice, left, and Sara Lenz stand together on stage at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School at Sourcewell’s Educators of Excellence Celebration on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Rice is Sourcewell's manager of education solutions and Lenz is a Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School teacher.
Contributed / Sourcewell

In addition to individual Educators of Excellence awards, leaders, paraprofessionals, coaches, teams, support staff and other awards of excellence were also given at the special event that recognizes and awards local educators who “positively impact students and colleagues.”

“If Wadena-Deer Creek schools need any expertise in the areas of mental health, trauma-informed behavioral modifications or interventions, Sara is the go-to professional,” Drange said of Lenz.

Sourcewell is at Staples-based regional service cooperative for Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties. It is charged by Minnesota state statute to partner with education, government and nonprofits to boost student and community success with events like these.

Paul Drange, left, and Lynn Quincer stand together on stage at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School at Sourcewell’s Educators of Excellence Celebration on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.
Paul Drange, left, and Lynn Quincer stand together on stage at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School at Sourcewell’s Educators of Excellence Celebration on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Drange is Sourcewell's director of regional programs and Quincer is a Wadena-Deer Creek Middle School teacher.
Contributed / Sourcewell

“You will not find a teacher more dedicated to her students or school than Lynn,” according to the program about Quincer. “Taking each student from where they are and working to help each of them see growth and success in their time with her has always been Lynn’s No. 1 priority.”

“She strives to develop a love of reading in her students but more importantly she makes sure each one of them feels respected and valued while in her classroom,” Sourcewell Manager of Education Solutions Kassidy Rice said before congratulating Quincer in front of a live audience.

Quincer has served as an elementary/middle school teacher at Wadena-Deer Creek for the past 29 years.

“She also takes the time to mentor and work with her colleagues. She has helped many new teachers become wonderful educators because she is approachable and always willing to help,” Rice said.

A new addition to the program this year was the recognition of the 2023 Innovator of the Year, awarded by the Innovative Schools Project to Pequot Lakes elementary teacher Deanne Trottier.

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“It was amazing to be surrounded by educators who care so deeply about kids in our area,” Jared Hoemberg, a Bertha-Hewitt first grade teacher and an Educator of Excellence, stated in a news release.

Hoemberg stated he was also touched by the fact that the trophies given to the Educators of Excellence were created by students from his district in the NextGen Bears program.

“To be recognized with some of the very best was humbling and significant,” Hoemberg stated. “The ultimate winner of the evening was the kids, knowing that they are receiving a top-notch education from people that love what they do.”

More than 50 educators from 21 local school districts were honored on May 3, 2023, as Educators of Excellence by Sourcewell. The celebration was held at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School.
More than 50 educators from 21 local school districts were honored on May 3, 2023, as Educators of Excellence by Sourcewell. The celebration was held at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts at Brainerd High School.
Contributed / Sourcewell

Educators from these districts were also honored: Brainerd, Cass Lake-Bena, Crosby-Ironton, Freshwater, Little Falls, Menahga, Mid-State, Northland Community, Pierz, Pillager, Pine River-Backus, Royalton, Sebeka, Staples-Motley, Swanville, Upsala, Verndale and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

“Like a song, educators can leave an impression on the heart and mind, uniting people and creating positive impact wherever they go,” Sourcewell Executive Director/CEO Dr. Chad Coauette stated in the news release.

The Educators of Excellence Celebration was broadcast live on Facebook for the general public. But a recording of the complete event can be viewed on Sourcewell’s Facebook page .

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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