An orchestra of applause filled the auditorium of Bemidji High School Wednesday morning when the Bemidji Education Association announced the winner of the 2009 BEA Teacher of the Year award.
Trish Quistgaard, school psychologist for the Bemidji Area Schools District, was this year's recipient, and was acknowledged with a standing ovation from fellow staff members.
"She is an outstanding educator," said award giver and BEA chair Kate Pearson.
Quistgaard has served in Bemidji Area Schools for 28 years as a school psychologist. She was recently awarded the Minnesota School Psychologists Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Those who nominated her wrote that her work as a team builder is unequaled, that she has a wonderful sense of humor, but also carries a soft shoulder to cry on.
"I am overwhelmed," said Quistgaard. "It's so meaningful especially because I'm not a classroom teacher."
Quistgaard is on several Bemidji city and Beltrami County committees and boards, including the Headwaters Alliance of Suicide Prevention, Children's Mental Health Team, Beltrami Area Service Collaborative Council, and Interagency Early Intervention Child Study Team.
When asked how she will carry the torch of BEA Teacher of the Year, she responded: "I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. The District is a great place to work."
Award recipients were given an engraved plaque and keychain, and a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Flowers were donated by KD Floral of Bemidji.
Other award winners were:
- Sandy Raddatz, Support Professional of the Year. Raddatz is a paraprofessional at Central Elementary School, and specializes in working with children with special needs and mentoring programs.
- Andy Allen, Lay Educator of the Year. Allen has volunteered in classrooms since his retirement as a Bemidji teacher in 1985. He has volunteered at Northern Elementary School since 2001.