Somali-American Qorsho Hassan, a 30-year-old educator who teaches fourth grade, will now represent Minnesota in the national contest.
She comes from the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district and her victory as the 2020 Minnesota Teacher of the Year was announced on Thursday, August 6.
Qorsho said that her students call her by her first name, and help direct their own learning.
“They run the classroom with me,” she said. “I refuse for anyone to dim the light of my students.”
“I am radically student-centered because I’m constantly trying to be who I needed when I was younger,” she said.
According to Sahan Journal, Qorsho Hassan, the first Somali American educator to receive the prestigious honor, was selected out of 134 nominees. The principal at Gideon Pond Elementary School in Burnsville, where Qorsho taught fifth grade the last two years, described her as a “game-changing educator.”
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz congratulated Qorsho on her victory.
”Congratulations to Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year Qorsho Hassan! Thank you for ensuring each and every student that enters your classroom can have a bright future and an opportunity to succeed,” Walz said.
More than a third of Minnesota’s public school students are people of color, but only 5 percent of their teachers are from the minorities and very few of those are of Somali origin.
The Teacher of the Year program is organized by Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers union, and supported by several other community groups and businesses. Teachers in public and private schools are eligible for the award.