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Rudney Chairs Minnesota Teacher of the Year Panel

Posted by Jenna Ray on Thursday, Jun. 5, 2014

For 20 years University of Minnesota, Morris Professor of Education Gwen Rudney has chaired the Minnesota Teacher of the Year (MNTOY) selection panel. The experience has enriched both Rudney’s career and those of current and former Morris students.

The panel is comprised of leaders in education, business, nonprofit service organizations, and government. It chooses the MNTOY through a series of portfolio reviews submitted by nominated candidates and interviews with finalists.

As chair, Rudney is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the contest and the comfort of all those involved. When asked if she plans to step down after 20 years in this volunteer role, she answers that the experience is one “too wonderful to let go.”

“It’s such a great group of people to work with, and I appreciate the opportunity to do so in such a positive way,” says Rudney.

Rudney is not the only member of the campus community taking part in MNTOY. Since Morris’s Education Minnesota Student Program (EMSP) chapter began playing a larger role in the state organization in recent years, its members have joined the selection committee as EMSP representatives. Since 2013 both Corey Johnson ’14 and Alyssa Meyerdirk ’15 have served on the panel with Rudney.

“Being a part of the MNTOY selection committee was a huge honor,” says Johnson.

Meyerdirk agrees, adding, “it was hard work, but a very fun and rewarding process.”

Other students benefit, too. Rudney shares what she learns through the selection process with the students in her classes. Furthermore, she and other members of Morris’s teacher-education faculty have been able to bring current and former MNTOY winners to campus to promote the field of teaching. It is a meaningful opportunity for audiences as well as award recipients.

“I was so impressed with Morris’s education students—their dedication to the profession is clear and strong, and improved upon by an unusual degree of maturity and awareness around the political nature of education,” says 2013 MNTOY Megan Hall, who visited Morris in April 2014.

Numerous Morris alumni have been nominated for MNTOY. Bonnie Lutz ’67 received the award in 1993, and Joe Bartos ’01, Renee Kaess Drewicke ’96, and Peggy Rinkenberger ’86 have been finalists.

Now in its 50th year, the MNTOY program is the oldest and most prestigious recognition program in Minnesota to honor excellence in education. More information is available at

2013 Minnesota Teacher of the Year Megan Hall encourages Morris students to pursue teaching.