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2 SPPS Educators are Finalists for Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Minnesota Teacher of the Year finalists. (Graphic courtesy of Education Minnesota)

 Posted by Saint Paul Public Schools on April 9, 2019

Congratulations to Bernetta Green and Eugenia Popa -- two Saint Paul Public Schools teachers who were named finalists for 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

Bernetta Green is a fifth grade teacher at Eastern Heights Elementary School. Eugenia Popa is an English as a second language teacher at Harding Senior High School.

Overall, nine teachers from across the state have been named finalists in Education Minnesota’s annual award. A panel of 24 leaders in the areas of education, business, government and nonprofits selected the finalists from a group of 40 semifinalists.

The 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be named Sunday, May 5.

Getting to Know Our Minnesota Teacher of the Year Finalists

 

Bernetta Green

Bernetta Green - 5th Grade Teacher
Eastern Heights Elementary

For how long -- and at which  schools -- have you worked as an educator in Saint Paul?
I have spent my entire 20 years of teaching at Eastern Heights Elementary School.

Why did you want to become a teacher?
As a student in Saint Paul Public Schools, I was blessed to have a plethora of wonderful educators and role models in my life. One teacher that inspired me to become an educator was my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Babcook. She was compassionate and taught me how to be dedicated to my education.

What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is building lasting relationships with students and watching them learn.

What’s the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is keeping all of my students engaged and motivated to learn the content that I teach.

If you weren’t a teacher, what profession would you choose?
If the profession of teaching did not call upon me, I would be crunching numbers (accountant) in an office or telling jokes (comedian) on a stage.

What does being nominated for Minnesota Teacher of the Year mean to you?
Being nominated for Minnesota Teacher of the Year is an honor to me. It means that someone thinks highly of me as educator and wants to share it with others.

Eugenia Popa

Eugenia Popa - ESL Teacher
Harding Senior High School

For how long -- and at which schools -- have you worked as an educator in Saint Paul?
I have been an educator for 36 years, out of which 23 have been in Saint Paul. I taught for 10 years at Parkway Elementary, Farnsworth Lower for nine years, and for the past four years I have been at Harding Senior High School. Prior to coming to the United States, I taught in Romania, where I am originally from, and in the United Kingdom. This summer I will be teaching in Poland.

Why did you want to become a teacher?
Back in my home country, Romania, a teaching career was a secure, highly respected and admired profession. As a student, I had amazing teachers whom I revered. I believe this was the perfect fit for me because working with children gives me energy, happiness and youth. I love teaching English Learners (EL) as they remind me of my own struggles as a newcomer trying to adjust to a new language and culture.

What’s the best part of your job?
Listening to my students’ stories and connecting with them on a personal level. I enjoy attending their concerts, sports competitions, ethnic celebrations and joining them on extended learning field trips. Knowing that I can be a resource and provide guidance for them gives my work a purpose and challenges me to constantly better myself.

What’s the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge for me is trying to juggle the multiple interests and commitments I have personally and professionally, while maintaining  balance and sanity in my life. I am very active and a perfectionist by nature, so I have to remember to slow down once in a while to take care of myself, in order to take care of those around me.

If you weren’t a teacher, what profession would you choose?
I would have loved to travel around the world to write about the places I visited and the people I met along the way. I am an avid traveler and learn best through first-hand experiences. I believe that exploring different cultures is the best way to understand how beautifully different, yet so much alike, we are.

What does being nominated for Minnesota Teacher of the Year mean to you?
It is an incredible honor to be recognized among so many outstanding educators in our schools, our district and our state. I am overwhelmed and deeply humbled. I have been very fortunate throughout my career to have met and learned from so many of my colleagues. I would not be able to do my job without the support of my strong EL team, my co-teachers, administration, counselors, social workers, nurses and everyone else at Harding Senior High School -- my second home.