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Mitchell teacher prepares for SD Teacher of Year ceremony next week

In one week, Cindy Gerlach will find out if she's the state's top teacher. Gerlach, who teaches family and consumer sciences for the Mitchell School District, is up for the 2017 South Dakota Teacher of the Year award. The winner will be announced...

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(Sarah Barclay/Republic)

In one week, Cindy Gerlach will find out if she’s the state’s top teacher.

Gerlach, who teaches family and consumer sciences for the Mitchell School District, is up for the 2017 South Dakota Teacher of the Year award.

The winner will be announced during the annual Systems Change Conference, which will be held Oct. 12-14 in Chamberlain. On the night of Oct. 13, the 2017 South Dakota Teacher of the Year will be revealed during a special recognition banquet.

“I think in being a candidate, it continues to help push myself to continually do my best,” Gerlach said. “It also helps remind me I’m in teaching and I’m in teaching because I’m here for the students. That rings that a little bit louder.”

To get to this process, Gerlach first had to win the district and regional teacher of the year awards. Gerlach was named the Mitchell School District Teacher of the Year in March and the regional Teacher of the Year award in April.

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The state is split into five regions for the Teacher of the Year regional awards. The winner of each region, moved on to the state award. The Mitchell School District was a part of Region 3. Within this region, Gerlach competed against six other teachers.

Gerlach, who is going on her ninth year working in the district and fifth at MCTEA, said being a candidate has also helped her in making new contacts with teachers and administrators across the state.

And if she wins the state title, she will move on to the national teacher of the year award.

Gerlach, who is one of five candidates for the state award, teaches culinary arts for MHS in the MCTEA building, focusing on culinary, nutrition and dietetics.

As far as choosing her favorite part of being a teacher, Gerlach said it’s a combination of seeing her students each day, but also planning lessons and “watching their faces as they catch on to something and get a concept.”

In the culinary arts, Gerlach said she teaches her students on-the-job skills they need in the food service agency. This helps prepare them for the industry and post secondary school.

When choosing candidates, the South Dakota Department of Education’s standards require teachers meet a list of high qualities, such as ability, performance and respectability.

“There are so many people deserving of this,” Gerlach said.

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