Education Minnesota announced the winner of the 2022 Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award, with a St. Cloud State University alumna making history as the winner of the annual award that celebrates the tradition of excellence in teaching in the state.
Sarah Lancaster ’13, a first-grade teacher at Onamia Elementary School who holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, was named the 58th recipient of the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award during a banquet held May 1 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. Lancaster is the first person from Onamia Public Schools and the first teacher of Asian Pacific Islander descent to be named Minnesota Teacher of the Year.
Lancaster has spent the last nine years teaching in her hometown of Onamia, working with first-grade and third-grade students over that span. She was chosen out of an initial list of 77 candidates from around the state to win the award, advancing along with alumnus Jon Fila ’99 to the group of 11 finalists in April.
“As a teacher, I get to show my students that they can reach beyond whatever barriers they encounter,” Lancaster said, according to Education Minnesota, in a video submitted to the award selection panel. “I get to show them that beyond these barriers is an amazing person, a scholar, an athlete, someone looking to connect with their culture and find their true identity. I can supply and awaken the language, strategies, enthusiasm and joy that very well may have been inside them all along.”
Lancaster, who currently serves as President of the Onamia Area Civic Association, has coached more than 20 seasons of both athletics and arts programs in Onamia. She has directed three of the annual high school musicals and volunteers with local youth groups and through her church.
The Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award is chosen annually by an independent panel of 22 leaders in the fields of education, business, government, nonprofit and philanthropy who review portfolios and ultimately choose the winner of the award. Eligible candidates for the award include pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade educators, Early Childhood Family Education and Adult Basic Education teachers throughout the state.