Rochester educator Natalia Benjamin named 2021 Minnesota teacher of the year


Born and raised in Guatemala and a native Spanish speaker, Benjamin attended a French school in Guatemala City, speaking, reading and writing the language. She learned English in middle and high school.

“My personal experiences with languages ​​have created a passion and appreciation for multiple languages ​​and cultures,” wrote Benjamin in his essay submitted to the Teacher of the Year jury. “Many of my students navigate new cultures and new places. Hope I can be a small part of their journey to be successful as they chase their dreams. ”

She said her experience helped her prepare to understand a child’s language acquisition process.

Benjamin has been teaching English and teaching ethnic studies at Century since 2015. During the previous two years, she worked as a locum and paraprofessional in the district and had previously taught language acquisition and foreign languages ​​to children from there. ‘Idaho. She has held various leadership positions at Century and Rochester Public Schools and her local union, Education Minnesota and the National Education Association.

Benjamin holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a master’s degree in language acquisition and teaching from Brigham Young University in Utah.

“Natalia prepares her students for success by fostering a safe, positive and welcoming learning environment for every child,” wrote Century Assistant Principal Molly Murphy. “She has the ability to vary instruction and adjust lessons to meet student needs.”

Education Minnesota, a union of 86,000 members, endorses and runs the Teacher of the Year program. The recipient is selected by an independent committee made up of leaders in education, business and government. Kindergarten to grade 12 teachers in private and public schools are eligible.


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