“Inspired people inspire people,” stated Jason Sethre, Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, before he announced Rushford-Peterson School’s Mary Hoiland as Fillmore County Teacher of the Year for 2017.
“Mrs. Hoiland has served our district faithfully for 42 years,” stated Superintendent Chuck Ehler, and he is very appreciative of her and her talents.
In this inaugural year of the Teacher of the Year selection the Fillmore County Journal partnered with Drury’s Furniture, Harmony Foods, Preston Foods, Rushford Foods, and Ody’s Country Meats & Catering to recognize the Teacher of the Year.
The award ceremony was held May 2, 2017, in the gymnasium of the Rushford-Peterson school in Rushford, Minn., with the entire student body present.
Superintendent Chuck Ehler spoke before the announcement of Teacher of the Year, saying that all teachers are “very deserving teachers,” but only one could be voted as Teacher of the Year.
Ehler said, “We are indebted to you for all that you do for our students, for our families, our communities and setting the future for these young people that are with us here today” in the audience.
Ehler asked all teachers in the auditorium to stand up and be recognized while the student body, staff and visitors gave them a big round of applause.
Ehler then introduced Sethre, who said, “You have to want to inspire people if you want to be a teacher,” noting to the students, “you have an award winning teacher here in this school today,” which caused a loud celebratory commotion.
“Out of 270 teachers in six school districts,” this teacher was chosen as Teacher of the Year, stated Sethre.
As Sethre announced Hoiland as the selection for Teacher of the Year, the gymnasium filled with
clapping and cheering.
It was easy to see how much the entire R-P school district cares for Hoiland and also how immensely she is respected.
After the shock wore off, Hoiland spoke briefly, saying, “I’m absolutely flabbergasted” at this honor saying, “thank you so much” to all those involved.
“I absolutely love my career in teaching,” stated Hoiland, and it shows every day that she spends in the R-P school.
In addition to the Teacher of the Year award, Hoiland received a $500 gift card for Rushford Foods, Harmony Foods and Preston Foods from owners Jim Hoiness and Brad Hoiness, a Green Mountain Grill (Daniel Boone) and cutlery set from Cody Koebke, owner of Ody’s Country
Meats & Catering in Spring Valley, Minn., and a leather La-Z-Boy recliner from Drury’s Furniture of Fountain, Minn.
Mrs. Hoiland was nominated by former student Ruby Oian, who currently resides in Winona. The nomination read as follows:
“She has given her full adult lifetime being employed as an elementary teacher in grades 4, 5 and 6. In her early years she also directed a youth choir ,but is mainly focused on the elementary classroom. She has not only inspired learning in all subjects, but has excelled in teaching math and reading. One of her favorite yearly projects was to teach the class a musical on parts of speech, vowels, reading and writing and then have the students present it for an audience. Students have come back to her and told her they still find the lyrics to the songs very helpful when needing to write correct grammar for high school and college papers.
Another favorite of students and parents was the gift she presented to each student at the close of the school year. She wrote a poem about each student and their accomplishments during the year, included a photo of the student, and gave it to the student and parents as a personal tribute to their year of learning in her classroom.
“She has earned the respect of the students and their parents by carefully and expertly teaching each subject matter plus expecting respect for herself as well as teaching the students respect for each other. When you talk to her ask her about what she expects of her students when they are in the hallways as a group. Clue: walking quietly ensures the full length of their recess.
“She retired as a full-time teacher two years ago but has continued as a long term substitute for the classrooms, as well as a short-term sub on a weekly and daily basis as needed for grades K-6. This offers the current full-time teachers the liberty of needed days away from the classroom, gives the administration the confidence that each classroom is well taken care of in the regular teacher’s absence.
“She values each child and is truly devoted to guiding each student with a positive attitude and a love of learning. After 45 years of doing an excellent job plus being, and proud to be, employed as a Rushford-Peterson Elementary teacher she is truly deserving of this public acclaim.”
Several students shared their memories of having Hoiland as a teacher. Savannah Slafter said, “Mrs. Hoiland made special efforts to get to know each and every one of her students and let them know that she really cares about us,” which meant a lot to her students.
The most popular memory by her students is definitely in fourth grade when Mrs. Hoiland would have a one on one lunch date with each student. It made each child feel that she saw them as an individual and cared about each and every one of them.
Junior at R-P school, Josie Bearbower states that Mrs. Hoiland “was one of my favorite teachers,” and she has great memories from her “lunch date” with Hoiland in fourth grade.
“She always had fun art projects for us to do,” stated junior Keegan Dittman. “She always had a positive attitude in the classroom,” said junior classman Wil Prinsen.
“I just think she is a really great person,” states fellow R-P teacher Forrest Musselman, saying she “has been very supportive of him and other teachers” over the years, adding that the award Hoiland received was “very well deserved” with the dedication that Hoiland has shown.
When asked how it feels to be Teacher of the Year, Hoiland responded by saying, “Overwhelmed,” adding, “it’s such an honor” to be chosen.
“I did my job to the best of my ability and being rewarded for it is above and beyond,” she said. When asked what being a teacher has taught her, Hoiland remarked, “I hope kindness, sincerity, hard work and dedication,” to name a few.
Judging by the way the students and staff at Rushford-Peterson schools feel about Hoiland, it is easy to see that she has touched the lives of many students who will carry what they have learned into adulthood and hold on to it for the remainder of their lives.