Two Catholic schools celebrate Teachers of the Year

| May 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
Josh Nutter, a middle school teacher at Carondelet Catholic School in Minneapolis, checks on eighth-graders Julia Hart and Jack Hower during their U.S. History class May 15. Nutter was named the K-8 Teacher of the Year by the Minnesota Independent School Forum.  Dianne Towalski/The Catholic Spirit

Josh Nutter, a middle school teacher at Carondelet Catholic School in Minneapolis, checks on eighth-graders Julia Hart and Jack Hower during their U.S. History class May 15. Nutter was named the K-8 Teacher of the Year by the Minnesota Independent School Forum. Dianne Towalski/The Catholic Spirit

Two Catholic school teachers have been honored with Teacher of the Year awards by the Minnesota Independent School Forum.

Josh Nutter, who teaches middle school social studies at Carondelet Catholic School in Minneapolis, and Steve Vopatek, who teaches advanced placement science at Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, were recognized at the School Forum’s 2014 awards celebration May 13 at the University of St. Thomas.

The Minnesota Independent School Forum is an organization serving Minnesota’s independent and private schools with the goal of strengthening Minnesota’s independent schools through advocacy and advancement. The award recognizes excellence in Minnesota’s private and independent school community, and is the only state-wide awards event for nonpublic education.

“It was an honor,” said Nutter. “As teachers, you don’t want to be the center of attention, but it was nice to be recognized.” The real recognition comes when former students come back and you get to see what great people they turned out to be, he added.

Steve Vopatek

Steve Vopatek

Getting to know your students and making a personal connection with each of them is key to being a good teacher, Nutter said. “When you know what their interests are, you can teach to that,” he said. “Especially with history, you can use real life examples and really make history come alive for them.”

Earlier this month, Nutter also was recognized by the National History Day program as a nominee for the Patricia Behring Junior Division Teacher of the Year, a national-level award.

The High School Teacher of the Year award was an unexpected thrill for Vopatek, who came to Academy of Holy Angels nine years ago after retiring from a 35-year career teaching in public schools.

“I was just thrilled to be a finalist, let alone a winner,” Vopatek said.

“I am so fortunate,” he said. “I have all the tools I need, a well-equipped lab, a generous budget, highly motivated students… It’s kind of a teacher’s dream.”

Vopatek plans to retire from teaching at the end of the current school year and he has learned a lot about being a good teacher in his years in front of a classroom.

“You have to be a motivator. That’s probably the single most important aspect of teaching,” said Vopatek. “You need to inspire kids to believe that they can be more than they ever thought they could be.”

Both schools have been honored with Teacher of the Year awards before. In 2012, Academy of Holy Angels teacher Pam Boston won the honor and Carondelet School’s Brigid Berger won in 2011.

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