Two East Side teachers up for teacher of the year prize

The 30 semifinalists for Education Minnesota's annual Teacher of the Year award have been announced, and two East Side educators are among them.

A familiar face for the award, Erik Brandt from Harding High, is again in the running. Brandt was named a finalist in 2013 as well. He's the school's International Baccalaureate Diploma coordinator, and an English teacher.

The other East Side teacher is Thanh Tran, a fifth-grade teacher at Farnsworth Aerospace and Engineering School.

Two other St. Paul-based teachers, Amy Hewett-Olatunde and Corrin Kupka, are also in the running. Kupka is a first-grade teacher at Obama Elementary School, while Hewett-Olatunde has been working as an ELL teacher at LEAP High School for 15 years.

Though the pool of teachers in the running spans the state, the majority of the instructors are based in the Twin Cities metro area.

A selection panel of 24 community leaders chose the 30 semifinalists from an initial field of 123 candidates from across the state.

Candidates include pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers from public and private schools.

The 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be announced Sunday, May 3, at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington.

— Patrick Larkin

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