Kirstin Schultz named WEA Teacher of the Year

Teachers clap for Kirstin Schultz, the WEA Teacher of the Year

Kirstin Schultz, a third-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary, was surprised with the WEA Teacher of the Year award at an assembly Monday morning at Jefferson Elementary. 

For more than 30 years, Kirstin Schultz has made school a place where her students feel welcomed, loved and safe. 

“I genuinely enjoy teaching and engaging with students,” Schultz said. “I hope that I am making a difference in their lives, and that they really enjoy coming to school.”

It certainly sounds like they do. On Monday morning, at a pulsating all-school assembly, Schultz, a third grade teacher, was surprised with the Winona Education Association Teacher of the Year award. The gym was filled with cheers, laughs and love from her students, her colleagues and others who know how much she means to Jefferson Elementary and Winona Area Public Schools. 

“She has a huge heart for students,” said Stacy Rasmussen, the elementary Title I coordinator. “She makes learning fun and engaging, and she always goes above and beyond to teach in an interesting way. 

“Her dedication and passion is second to none.”

Schultz has worked for Winona Area Public Schools her entire career. After graduating college, she landed at Dakota Elementary, teaching two years of second grade and one year of a combination kindergarten-first grade class. She then moved to Ridgeway for six years before coming to Jefferson, where she has taught for 22 years, all but one at third grade. 

Her goal is a simple one: Help her students love school. 

“I am passionate about getting to know my students, creating a community of learners, and making those important connections,” she said. “When students feel safe and loved, learning can happen.”

Of course, that is easier said than done. Schultz prides herself on being a creative teacher.
“I spend a lot of time searching for fun and engaging ideas that make learning more enjoyable for my students,” she said. “I want my students to love school.”

Teacher holds balloons and flowers with her family

Schultz also knows that she isn’t the only teacher to do this, especially when she looks around at her colleagues at Jefferson and in Winona Area Public Schools.

“Teaching is hard work,” she said. “Our jobs don’t end when the bell rings. We spend a lot of time planning, grading, researching, and talking with other teachers to find ways to make learning more enjoyable for our students. There are so many great teachers in our district. They all want what's best for their students.”