Two district educators have been recognized for their excellence in the classroom by the Robbinsdale Federation of Teachers (RFT).
Gretchen Wurzer-Palm was selected as the 2023 Robbinsdale Teacher of the Year, and Shelly Kregness has been named the 2023 Education Assistant (EA) of the Year.
Teacher of the Year
Wurzer-Palm has worked for the district for 28 years as a dance, theater and speech teacher. Currently working at Cooper High School, she has also taught at the now closed Hosterman Middle School, Sandburg Middle School, Armstrong High School and Robbinsdale Academy-Highview.
Gretchen shared that she was shocked and humbled when learning about the honor. “The best part of being a teacher is the relationships you make with students. They energize me, they make me laugh, they can bring me to tears, they teach me as much as I teach them. In the world of the Performing Arts, we have the opportunity to see such growth in students as we help them through their own creative process in creating a character, learning a piece of music or mastering a dance routine. It is so gratifying to see them come out of their comfort zones as they realize their potential.”
“Gretchen Wurzer brings endless energy and enthusiasm to the work she does in theater arts and her school,” said Peter Eckhoff, Robbinsdale Federation of Teachers President. “You cannot help but be pulled into her world when you walk into the theater and feel the inspiration and motivation she instills. Gretchen is a fine teacher with a storied career. She is an excellent choice for our Teacher of the Year.”
The Teacher of the Year recognition has been awarded annually since 2012 by RTF.
EA of the Year
Kregness has worked for the district for 17 years and also works at Cooper High School. In her time at Rdale, she has also supported students at the former Sunny Hollow Elementary and Plymouth Middle School.
Kregness said she was astounded, in a good way when she learned the news. “ I am a people person and someone who thoroughly enjoys helping others, my job in education provides opportunity for both,” she said. “Making a difference in students' lives is very motivating. Watching a change over four years in high school is amazing as they grow in confidence and maturity. Helping them acquire skills to navigate college and the adult world, in general, is a joy.”
“Shelly Kregness is a gift for our English Learning students,” said Eckhoff. “She brings so much joy to the learning support she provides to our students. What a fantastic example she is to us all each day. This recognition is well deserved.”
Wurzer-Palm and Kregness were recognized on May 10 during an in-person celebration co-hosted by RFT and the Seven Dreams Education Foundation.