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Avon man wins national award

Paul Kuhlman

AVON -- An Avon man has been named the Monsanto Fund National Rural Teacher of the Year.

Paul Kuhlman works at Avon High School, where he has taught science and math for the last 21 years. His selection as Rural Teacher of the Year was announced Wednesday by Steve Breckon, chairman of the Rural Teacher of the Year committee.

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Kuhlman has a bachelor of science in biology education from North Dakota State University and master's degrees in secondary administration and natural science from the University of South Dakota.

He was recognized as the South Dakota Teacher of the Year in 2009 and received the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. He has served as a consultant for the South Dakota Department of Education and the University of South Dakota's School of Education.

"I expect all students to reach their highest potential no matter what level that might be," Kuhlman said in a written statement released by the award committee.

He helps students accomplish that by working individually with them to choose a challenging science project, working closely with individualized education program (IEP) teams to adjust plans to meet the needs of some students, and seeking ideas and projects to challenge more advanced students.

Kuhlman created the Avon Science Fair, which has given Avon students the opportunity to advance and compete in events all around the United States. He has engaged teachers from other disciplines and parents to assist with projects.

"I want my students to take full advantage of the opportunities that abound in a rural community," he said.

The announcement from the award committee praised Kuhlman for his commitment to rural education.

"Paul appreciates living and working in a rural community and understands the

opportunities they afford to their citizens," the announcement said. "He realizes to keep our rural schools and communities viable, there must be a strong active bond between the two."

Kuhlman will receive the award at the 105th National Rural Education Convention and Research Seminar on Oct. 19 in Branson, Mo. He will receive a $2,000 award and Avon High School will receive $1,000. There were eight other finalists for the award, all from states other than South Dakota, who also will be recognized.

The Rural Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Co. The fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farmers and Monsanto Co. employees live and work.