Mitchell's Moller selected as 2012 SD Teacher of the YearPat Moller gets big prize package, chance at national honor.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Mitchell Middle School math teacher Patrick Moller is South Dakota’s 2012 Teacher of the Year.
Moller was announced Thursday evening from among six finalists at the Teacher of the Year banquet in Spearfish. He was chosen by a panel of education experts.
Moller said he was stunned.
“They called my name, and it’s all kind of a blur,” he said later in a phone interview with The Daily Republic.
“I’m humbled and honored to represent all the great teachers in South Dakota. It’s an awesome responsibility I have to represent them in the right way and the positive light they deserve. I’ll do my best.”
The title came with prizes.
“I got a lot of stuff,” he said with a laugh.
He will receive use of a new car for one year, a technology package valued at more than $14,000 to use in his classroom, cash awards and more.
“I’m still blown away, and I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I’ll give you a better interview tomorrow.”
When he received his Mitchell Teacher of the Year award earlier this year, Moller credited his parents, Barry and Jean Moller, of Stickney, with instilling the life principles that guided him on a successful teaching career.
His parents were present Thursday night in Spearfish. Two aunts and a cousin also attended.
Moller’s colleagues were glad to hear the news.
“We’re elated that Pat has been chosen to be South Dakota’s Teacher of the Year,” Mitchell Middle School Principal Brad Berens said earlier Thursday, before the news went public.
“He’s a role model when it comes to working with kids. Pat truly wants to find a way for students to engage in learning. He uses both humor and firmness with his students, and he tries to determine how he can motivate each individual.”
The Middle School will hold a special school assembly at 8:15 a.m. Monday to recognize Moller’s achievement.
“It won’t be a long, drawn-out ceremony,” Berens said, “but we want the kids and teachers to celebrate Pat’s accomplishment.”
Moller has been a teacher with the Mitchell School District nine years and has taught math at the high school as well as the middle school. He also coaches boys’ and girls’ tennis at MHS.
Moller has a master’s in education and educational leadership, and has obtained multiple grants for use in his classroom, including the National Education Association’s Innovation grant, and most recently the Teachers and Technology grant. He was a presenter at this fall’s Midwest Regional Middle Level Conference in Nebraska.
“It is clearly evident that Pat is willing to give 110 percent for every single one of his students,” South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp said in a news release. “His enthusiasm for his students and his profession are a shining example.”
Moller and his wife, Michele, are the parents of two girls: Marissa, 13, and Amber, 6. Michele works at the Child Development Center at Mitchell Technical Institute.
Moller teaches math on an interdisciplinary teaching team that includes English teacher Ann Moege, science teacher Jodi Norden and social studies teacher Kate Kramer. Earlier this year, Moege was named 2011 English Teacher of the Year by the South Dakota Council of Teachers of English.
Other candidates for state Teacher of the Year were Susan Karels, Milbank School District; Darcey Mollman, Faith School District; Nicole Gardner-Fink, Sioux Falls School District; Katie Lee Swank, Todd County School District; and Tom Keck, Rapid City School District.
The featured speaker at the banquet was 2011 National Teacher of the Year Cheryl Conley, of Vero Beach, Fla.
Moller will represent South Dakota as a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award.
The National Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honors program focusing public attention on excellence in teaching. The National Teacher of the Year is announced during a Washington, D.C., ceremony each April.