2 Northland educators among 'Teacher of the Year' nominees

Education Minnesota, the statewide K-12 teachers union, is set to announce a winner in May.

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Dawn Savela and Dave Perry.
Contributed photos
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DULUTH — Two Northland teachers are nominated for a high honor among Minnesota K-12 educators.

Dave Perry of Cloquet Public Schools and Dawn Savela of Rock Ridge Public Schools are among 131 teachers statewide who were put up for Education Minnesota’s annual “ Teacher of the Year ” award.

Perry is a middle school special education and social studies teacher who also coordinates restorative practices at the Cloquet district’s alternative education programs.

He won similar recognition last fall from the Minnesota Rural Education Association . Staff there in turn nominated Perry for "Teacher of the Year," transposing the praise for him they received when he was nominated for the association’s award.

For the MREA award and, in effect, "Teacher of the Year," Principal Connie Hyde characterized Perry as the most compassionate educator with whom she has worked.


“His kind, calm demeanor instantly puts students and parents at ease,” she wrote. “Dave is able to de-escalate and get students back on the learning track with ease. Trust is the value Dave displays and all who work with him have that trust in Dave."

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Savela is a high school math teacher at Virginia Secondary School and adviser to the student council there. She was nominated for the Education Minnesota award by Marcia Nelson, the former principal at that school.

“In the process of teaching math, Dawn builds relationships through high expectations, patience, caring, and acknowledging step-by-step accomplishments along the way,” Nelson wrote. “She will not rest until her students learn the skills they need to pursue their future dreams!"

Education Minnesota is the statewide K-12 teachers union. After a nominee's name is put forth by a peer for the “Teacher of the Year” award, the nominee must submit a packet in which they detail their philosophy of teaching, major issues facing public education today, and resume.

A panel of education, business, government and nonprofit leaders then reviews each submission and, ultimately, narrows the list of nominees to a group of finalists.

The winner will be announced at a banquet May 7 in St. Paul. They’ll be the union’s 59th such honoree.

Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

You can reach him at:
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