Three PE teachers are nominated for Minnesota Teacher of the Year


“Teaching is fun.”

That’s how Prairie View Elementary School teacher Nate Gabel describes his job, even after two years of COVID-19, blended learning, online classes and figuring out how to do it. all of this work.

This attitude likely explains why he is one of three teachers from Eden Prairie Schools who have been nominated for Teacher of the Year honors from Education Minnesota.

The other two, Kassy Miller and Emily Larson, both teach at Central Middle School.

Nate Gabel

Nate Gabel

Nate Gabel has taught at Prairie View for 23 years. During this time he taught 4and year, served as a cognitive coach, and since 2013 has taught in the 5and Grade Mosaic gifted program.

Teaching is a “hoot,” he said, because “you get to know kids and their unique traits that make them who they are and how they learn best. You can plant seeds in children who we all hope will grow into the amazing people they can be.

“Through challenge, we succeed,” is how Gabel described his teaching philosophy.

“An anonymous poem describes the flow of a class from the start of the year to the finish line of the year,” he said. “’We meet awkwardly. We learn to walk. I find you dancing.

“These words are what I hope to see in my children,” he continued. “That as we go through our year together we get to know each other, that the learning and training we do together is meaningful and lifelong, that at the end of our year, we can celebrate a successful year in a crazy and joyful dance.”

Before coming to Eden Prairie, Gabel taught 2n/a grade in Fairfax County Public Schools.

Gabel is an avid cyclist, enjoys traveling and biking, skiing, camping and hiking in the outdoors. He is also a singer.

All of these activities he enjoys doing with his family, which includes his wife, Kristin, a biology teacher at Eden Prairie High School, and two children, one attending Michigan Tech University and the other at St. Louis Park High School.

Emily Larson

CMS Teacher Emily Larson 2-5-22
Emily Larson

“Teaching during this time confirmed the importance of relationships as well as the need for flexibility,” she said. “I’ve learned that being a constant to my students and giving them everything they need on a daily basis is so important in a time filled with so much uncertainty.”

Being a special education teacher through two years of COVID-19 has its own set of challenges. Emily Larson tried to use a difficult time to become a touchstone for her students.

Larson teaches students in grades 6 through 8 in CMS’s Program 3 for students who spend a large portion of their school day in a special education classroom. She has been teaching there for two years. Previously, she taught for four years in Sioux Falls, SD

“I loved working at Eden Prairie and being part of an incredible group of educators who uplift students and go above and beyond to help students succeed,” she said. “I believe my role is to prepare each of my students for an ever-changing world.

“I believe that each of my students (is) unique and capable of learning. My role is to meet my students where they are and to facilitate their learning and make it relevant to their lives.

Larson and her husband, Ethan, have a 2-year-old daughter, Elliot.

She enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, crafting and spending time by the lake.

Kassy Miller

Photo of CMS teacher Kassy Miller 2-5-22
Kassy Miller

“Is it corny to say that I love everything about teaching PE?” Kassy Miller responded when asked what she loved most about being an educator at Eden Prairie Schools.

May be.

Or maybe not, if you’ve been doing it for 25 years – and it’s the only place you’ve ever taught. “That says something, doesn’t it?” she asked.

Miller currently teaches 6and reading notes at Central Middle School (CMS). She started at what is now Oak Point Elementary School, taught 5and EP Online grade last year, and is now in her first year at CMS.

“I was very lucky to work with amazing teachers,” she said. “The teams I’ve played on have been incredible. I always feel valued and supported. And kids are the best! I love 5th and 6th graders. Yes, they can be sassy sometimes, but they never fail to crack me up.

Explaining her teaching philosophy isn’t easy to do in a paragraph, she admits. “But I can tell you that I want my children to have fun coming into my class. This is the first hurdle,” she said. “They have to want to come and then they have to want to stay.”

She wants her students to succeed, “but more importantly, our children need to be loved, supported and cared for,” she said. “Every day I am reminded of this quote: ‘Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about’… I began to put kindness and compassion first. The program guide or the rhythm of the content no longer guides me, the children do.”

Miller lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Brad, and 15-year-old daughter, Lila, who is a freshman at Washburn High School.

“I love the outdoors and I love living in the city,” she said. “I spend a lot of time cycling or walking around the lakes. I don’t care what the weather is like. You will always see me around one of the city’s lakes all year round.

Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year program is in its 58th yearand year. This year’s field of nominees consists of 77 teachers from across the state. Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year Banquet is scheduled for May 1 in St. Paul.

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