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2022 Minnesota Teacher of the Year breaks ground as first honoree of Asian descent

Her first and only teaching position has been in her central Minnesota hometown of Onamia.

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ST. PAUL -- The 2022 Minnesota Teacher of the Year teaches first grade in her hometown of Onamia, where she has broken ground as the only person of color on the teaching staff.

On Sunday, Sarah Lancaster was selected from 11 finalists as the recipient of the 58th annual award. Lancaster is the first teacher of Asian-Pacific Islander descent to earn the honor.

Her first and only teaching position has been in her central Minnesota hometown, where she has worked for nine years with third- and first-grade students at Onamia Elementary School.

“I want to give back to the community that once helped to set me up for success,” she said in a statement from Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers union that sponsors the Teacher of the Year competition.

Sarah Lancaster
Courtesy of Education Minnesota via St. Paul Pioneer Press

“No matter the age of the students she is working with, Sarah displays an unrivaled amount of passion for student education and improvement,” said Cynthia Martin, a fellow first-grade teacher at Onamia Elementary, in a letter of recommendation that was submitted to the independent selection committee. “Sarah is forever willing and open to acquiring new knowledge to help students in need of intervention or enrichment. Her breadth of knowledge in teaching methods is vast, and she is able to connect with students in so many effective ways.”


Lancaster also leads both athletics and arts programs in Onamia and volunteers with local youth groups as well as her church.

Lancaster holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University and a master’s degree from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

The 11 Teacher of the Year finalists included three east metro educators: Yonnie Eiden-Giel, a social studies teacher at Park High School in Cottage Grove; Kendall Gonzalez, a kindergarten teacher at Matoska International School in White Bear Lake; and Andrea Welvaert, an ASD/SPED (autism spectrum) teacher at Cottage Grove Middle School.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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