Sunday, August 14, 2022

Triton teacher recipient of $15,000 Teacher Achievement Award

When Triton High School Principal Luke Lutterman told Rebecca Goossens that he needed her to be at a teachers meeting last week to give a presentation on a school program, she thought it somewhat unusual but didn’t really give it much thought.

So imagine her surprise when Lutterman introduced, via Zoom, a speaker from the WEM Foundation and Synergy & Leadership Exchange who announced that Goossens was the recipient of a 2021 WEM Outstanding Education Award, an honor that is accompanied by a $15,000 award.

The award, according to the organization, “recognizes exemplary teachers who support, inspire and assist students to attain greater learning as evidenced by student achievement.”

Goossens teaches business education at the school and is also the advisor for BPA Chapter, a group that she started. Over the last five years the chapter has had 53 state top-ten finishes, state champions and numerous national top-finishes.

At this years State Leadership Conference in March, the Triton chapter crowned a state champion, six national trip winners and one top ten finisher. Senior students in the News Broadcast Team competition won first place and a team of sophomores took second place in the same competition. Both teams advanced to the national competition in May.

In addition to BPA, she is also the Senior Seminar Project coordinator and advisor for the school yearbook.

As a teacher, a WEM news release said, Goossens strives to teach the importance of teambuilding and create a sense of community in each of her classes. One way she does this is through weekly check-ins with each of the students in her classes which also provides them an opportunity to self-reflect. She also has students fill out self-evaluations at the end of each unit where they reflect on how comfortable they are with the learning targets, if there are any areas they are struggling with, how balanced they feel the workload was, and whether the assessments were meaningful and helped them learn. She then routinely makes changes to curriculum and teaching methods based off their responses.

“I learned many valuable life skills from her, like dealing with difficult people and groups, how to be creative in a structured environment, and how to deal with disappointment, said a former student. “The experiences that students have in her classroom are enriched because Mrs. Goossens is willing to share about her own life in a way that is teachable and relatable to students.”

Although aside from “thank you”, words were hard to come by for Goossens at the actual announcement, she said afterwards that she was completely surprised and had no idea that she would win the award. She did say, however, that she thought her husband, who was one who did know, was acting a little different that morning.

Goossens is one of six educators being honored by the WEM Foundation and Synergy & Leadership Exchange for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to student learning. Specifically, she is one of two recipients of the Teacher Achievement Award.

 “Mrs. Goossens has transformed education in the Business Education Department, but even more importantly she has used her gifts to catapult our students toward success after graduation and empowered her colleagues as lifelong learners,” said Lutterman.

Students, parents, colleagues or community members can nominate a teacher for the awards.

Those who accept the nomination provide additional information for consideration by Synergy & Leadership Exchange and a selection panel, which reviews and ranks the nominees. In addition to the six statewide honorees, additional educators have been selected as regional honorees for 2021.

Synergy & Leadership Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering collaboration to advance the development of ethical citizens, providing educational resources, and celebrating achievement and best practices in Minnesota schools, businesses and communities.

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