In her hometown of Onamia, the 2022 Minnesota Teacher of the Year teaches first grade, where she has made history as the sole person of color on the teaching staff.
Sarah Lancaster was chosen among 11 candidates as the winner of the 58th annual award on Sunday. Lancaster is the first Asian-Pacific Islander teacher to receive the award.
Her first and only teaching job was at Onamia Elementary School in central Minnesota, where she worked with third- and first-grade pupils for nine years.
In a statement released by Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers organization that conducts the Teacher of the Year competition, she stated, “I want to give back to the community that once helped to put me up for success.”
In a letter of recommendation submitted to the independent selection committee, Cynthia Martin, a fellow first-grade teacher at Onamia Elementary, noted, “No matter the age of the kids she is dealing with, Sarah demonstrates an unequaled degree of love for student education and progress.”
“Sarah is always eager to learn new things in order to assist pupils that require intervention or enrichment. Her expertise of teaching approaches is extensive, and she has the ability to interact with kids in a variety of ways.”
Lancaster also participates with local youth organizations and her church, as well as leading athletics and artistic programs in Onamia.
Lancaster graduated from St. Cloud State University with a bachelor’s degree and St. Mary’s University of Minnesota with a master’s degree.
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 disorder) teacher at Cottage Grove Middle School, were among the 11 Teacher of the Year finalists.