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Maura Johnson was selected as the 2014 Teacher of the Year on Wednesday by the Bemidji Education Association. Johnson, a special education teacher at Bemidji Middle School, praised others who help her keep motivated. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer
Maura Johnson was selected as the 2014 Teacher of the Year on Wednesday by the Bemidji Education Association. Johnson, a special education teacher at Bemidji Middle School, praised others who help her keep motivated. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Shining a light for students: Bemidji Area Schools award Teacher, Support Professional of the Year honors

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI — Maura Johnson is a teacher, not an electrician — but she loves empowering her students.

Johnson said the most rewarding aspect of her job is when “the light comes on” for her students.

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“When they’re in school, and school’s been troubling, and… they get the first A or the first B, and they’re going ‘I can do this’” she said. “That’s what’s fun.”

Johnson, a special education teacher at Bemidji Middle School, was named as Teacher of the Year on Wednesday by the Bemidji Education Association. Carol Sorensen was Support Professional of the Year.

The pair were presented their awards at the Bemidji School District’s yearly pre-school year, all-employee gathering at Bemidji High School on Wednesday.

Johnson said winning was “a little surreal” since her colleagues at BMS were so talented themselves. She has been educating for 28 years, she said.

As BEA’s Teacher of the Year, Johnson is eligible to apply for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award.

A friend to students, faculty

Sorensen is a participant in the “Foster Grandparent” program at Horace May Elementary. She called receiving the award “humbling.”

“I’ve enjoyed my years there, and made a lot friendships,” she said.

A presentation speech adapted from Sorensen’s nomination letter said the 89-year-old’s trademark is her high energy level.

“Carol is the prototype for the Energizer Bunny,” a copy of the speech read. “She never sits still. Carol is constantly on the alert for someone in need of help… the students and staff with whom she works are the ultimate beneficiaries of her generous assistance.”

Sorensen fought through adversity to help other people, the speech said.

“Carol is a cancer survivor, an avid quilter and seamstress, an active member of her church, and one of the kindest, most positive and caring women you will ever meet,” it read.

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