Spreading the joy: Three WAPS educators named WEA 2020-21 Teachers of the Year

Teachers of the year

The Winona Education Association Teachers of the Year for 2020-21 are, clockwise from upper left, Stacy Gobler, Katrina Glick and Shannon Helgeson.

A leader of educators. A community builder. An advocate for students.  

To celebrate a school year in which teachers were asked to do more than ever, the Winona Education Association decided to expand its teacher of the year program to honor not just one — but three teachers in Winona Area Public Schools. 

The Winona Education Association Teachers of the Year for the 2020-21 school year are: Shannon Helgeson, an instructional coach at the high school; Katrina Glick, a first-grade teacher at Goodview Elementary; and Stacy Gobler, a social studies teacher at the middle school. 

All three were notified of their selection at three separate surprise ceremonies on Monday. Helgeson was surprised during an all-staff meeting at the high school; Glick was surprised at an all-staff meeting at Goodview and Gobler, in a sign of the COVID-19 times, was surprised in a physically distant driveway ceremony as she is on the last day of a 14-day quarantine after being identified as a close contact of a positive case. 

Shannon Helgeson Teacher of the Year

Shannon Helgeson greets her son David after receiving a WEA Teacher of the Year award Monday at the high school.

Shannon Helgeson

Helgeson spent 16 years as a social studies teacher before becoming an instructional coach for the high school and ALC. 

“While not having students in my classroom has been emotionally tough at times,” Helgeson said, “I am heartened by the multiplier effect I can have on students by supporting the excellent educators here at WAPS.”

Helgeson proved to be a valuable resource at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, helping teachers adjust to distance learning and the challenges that come with teaching remotely. 

“She definitely goes above and beyond in her service to the district,” read Helgeson’s nomination. “To her own detriment, I’m certain, she answers questions late into the evening, and delves deep when researching or providing resources.”

Helgeson also serves as the building coordinator for the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program at the high school since 2017. 

“I cannot imagine what her life must be like and how busy she is, which shows her professionalism and dedication to this position and the career of teaching,” another nomination read.

Helgeson said that public schools are “bastions of hope” and that she is proud to be a teacher in WAPS. 

“Teachers make war on mediocrity, and inspire learners to think just a little more deeply than they did the day before,” she said. “Teachers are guardians of a process as old as civilization itself — the development of the next generation to be so much more than they ever dreamed possible.”

Katrina Glick Goodview

Katrina Glick, left, listens to last year's WEA Teacher of the Year Kristi Conway speak during a surprise ceremony Monday at Goodview.

Katrina Glick

Glick has spent 13 years in Winona Area Public Schools, five in kindergarten and the rest in first grade. She has taught at both Washington-Kosciusko and Goodview. 

Glick said she loves to build relationships with students and families. 

“I want my students to want to come to school and enjoy being here. I want families to feel connected and feel confident in how to help their child at home as well,” she said. “I also feel strongly about giving parents ‘a glimpse’ inside our classroom through pictures and technology. This can help drive conversations with their child at home about their day.”

Glick teaches her students to be kind, caring and helpful, and last year started a “Kindness Cart,” which students used to spread joy throughout the school. 

“She works hard to make sure her classroom is set up to be a place that is welcoming and inviting,” a nomination read. “Katrina also does a great deal to support her colleagues in many ways. She is very supportive of the people she works with, both professionally and personally, which is vital during times such as we are experiencing now.”

Glick has served on a number of committees in WAPS, including Continuing Education, Technology and the Staff Development Committee. 

“Katrina was born to be an educator,” another nomination read. “She maintains high expectations for herself, and that translates into a wonderful environment for her students. I wish that my own children would have had an opportunity to be in Katrina’s class.”

Glick said that all teachers want what is best for their students.

“This year has certainly thrown unique challenges our way, and I feel our WAPS staff has taken them in stride and tried to find the very best solutions,” she said. “At the end of the day, we all just want to be together and learn.”

Stacy Gobler Teacher of Year

Stacy Gobler was surprised in her driveway, along with her daughters Abigail and Allison and husband Randy.

Stacy Gobler 

Gobler joined Winona Area Public Schools in 2016 as a special education teacher at the middle school before becoming a sixth-grade social studies teacher this year.

“I am most passionate about making meaningful connections with my students while engaging them in the learning process,” she said. “I believe that all students deserve a safe and empathetic environment to grow in as learners. It is my responsibility to make connections and guide students toward being successful, active members of our community.”

Gobler’s contributions go beyond the classroom. When the PTA had a hard time finding parents to take leadership roles, Gobler raised her hand to be president. 

“My favorite thing about Ms. Gobler is her willingness to do anything to make students enjoy their experiences here at the school,” a nomination form read. “She has made plenty of fun bulletin boards, created class March Madness activities and Olympic games and activities. She plans and organizes field trips, events and fundraisers, even when that is not her job.

“She makes the school culture more positive and fun.”

Gobler has organized projects that would result in donations to the Winona County Emergency child care department and the Winona Humane Society. She also plays an integral role in the AVID Holiday Store, which donates money to the Winona Community Warming Shelter. 

“She constantly puts people before herself and this includes her students and colleagues,” another nomination read. “She cares about kids and it is evident in all that she does. Stacy has great ideas, takes action instead of just talking about it, and sees things in a very logical and reasonable way.”

Gobler said that all teachers are working overtime during the pandemic to bring their students the education they deserve.

“During this difficult time for our families and our community, we promise to continue to serve,” she said. “The compassion and drive to do better for our community is inside the walls of our public schools here in Winona.”