High school teacher and OHS Magnet advisor Jessica Wagner is the Owatonna Teacher of the Year. The announcement came through social media on Wednesday, May 13, which was the day the Owatonna Education Association banquet was scheduled to be held.

The other nominees include high school teachers Lauren Gendron and Steven Benson and middle school teachers Emily Leckner and Heather Bae, according to the OHS Magent, student news organization.

Wagner expressed her gratitude on Twitter, "Thank you all for the love today! I'm overwhelmed with outpouring of kindness! I love being a teacher and @ohsmagnet advisor. I miss my OHS kids and adults more than ever today."

Wagner told the OHS Magnet, in a story authored by Logan Gauthier before the announcement, "I really try to focus on the fun we'll have that day. Whether it is creating something with the Magnet staff, understanding a new concept in English 10, or building confidence in public speaking. I try to sell it as we got this together."

Gendron told the Magnet, "I see my classroom as a home. I want it to be a positive place where students can learn, but be themselves along the way and have fun." She has also been on the other side, "I'm a proud OHS grad, so a lot of my previous teachers are now my colleagues."

Benson said, "I feel honored to be recognized by my peers as doing something valuable for students...I think I'm just a kid myself. I like to play games, I am curious, and I like to at candy."

Education association president Todd Andrix said, "Typically the top five are very dedicated or involved in students' lives beyond the classroom, they are leaders, and most have been around for several years and earned the respect of enough colleagues to be a finalist."

The Magnet reports that the nomination process rotates each year with this year's candidates representing grades six through 12. Fellow staff members made the nominations.

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