BEMIDJI -- Even with more than 30 years as an educator under her belt, sixth-grade science teacher Alyson Berg never gets bored when she walks into the classroom.

“There’s never, ever, ever a dull moment,” Berg said. “It’s a job where you wish you had more time in the day instead of looking at the clock.”

Recognizing that passion and dedication for her students, the Bemidji Education Association named Berg Teacher of the Year during its annual awards ceremony Tuesday at Bemidji High School. In addition to recognizing Berg, the association named Chad Kurschner as Support Professional of the Year and Lauree Bahr as Lay Educator of the Year. The association also honored staff members who have reached milestones of 15 years or more.

Stephen Pfleger, who presented the awards on behalf of BEA Chairwoman Kate Pearson, said Berg is known “for having positive energy, unwavering enthusiasm for the classroom and a passion for science.” He also said her name is synonymous with the Bemidji Middle School Science Fair. Although the event is held in February, she begins planning for the event in early November. She’s also instrumental in the school’s knowledge bowl.

“There are a lot of people who deserve it,” Berg said. “I feel really, really humbled because there are a lot of people in there who are great teachers that could have been nominated.”

Berg began her teaching career in Buffalo, Minn., where she taught for three years. She then moved to Bemidji since she was from the area. In fact, she was hired for the position by one of the people who had been her own principal when she was in high school.

From left: Alyson Berg, Teacher of the Year; Chad Kurschner, Support Professional of the Year; and Lauree Bahr, Lay Educator of the Year. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)
From left: Alyson Berg, Teacher of the Year; Chad Kurschner, Support Professional of the Year; and Lauree Bahr, Lay Educator of the Year. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

Pfleger also listed some of the accomplishments of Kurschner and Bahr.

As a custodian, Kurschner was always looking for ways to connect with the students who filled the rooms at Paul Bunyan Elementary. Pfleger described how Kurschner would hide a fake lizard around the cafeteria and challenge the students to see if they could spot the reptile. Kurschner would tell them stories about how the lizard moved around at night.

He has since moved on to a position at Lincoln Elementary.

“He has a unique ability to build supportive relationships with students,” Pfleger said.

As the lay educator of the year, Phleger said Bahr is not an employee of the school district but supports and loves education and gives freely of her time and energy. She volunteers at the media center at Gene Dillon Elementary.

Pfleger said Bahr, among other tasks, helped process and organize thousands of books and even made curtains for the library windows at the school. Even now that Gene Dillon is established, Bahr still volunteers her time.

“Lauree may be retired, but she hasn’t quit working,” Phleger said. “She’s an integral part of the team that helped us open the media center at Gene Dillon Elementary last September.”