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District Indian Education teacher wins Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year award at statewide conference

District Indian Education teacher wins Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year award at statewide conference

Jillian Stately, an Indian Education teacher for nine of the district’s elementary schools, was recently recognized with an Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year award at the April 18 Minnesota Indian Education Association (MIEA) conference.

Jillian Stately poses with her award


Stately serves 140 district students who are Native American at nine schools, plans curriculum for all elementary sites and meets regularly with groups of students for lessons on cultural knowledge, especially with the region’s dominant Dakota and Ojibwe tribes. While she has worked with students at all building levels throughout her six years with the district, she now works exclusively with elementary-aged students. 

“Strengthening their cultural identity is really important for these kids,” Stately said. “I just love the elementary age.”

Some of the topics Stately’s students have engaged in this year include learning about native storytelling and how it relates to constellations and animals, traditions of jewelry making and more. 

Crest View Elementary School’s Laura Wagenman nominated Stately for the award. 

“Jillian is dedicated to ensuring our students in Indian Education feel connection, belonging and see their cultural gifts,” Wagenman said. “She is a creative educator who facilitates hands-on learning experiences that cultivate joy and rich cultural ties.”

The MIEA conference, where she received her award, had over 500 attendees including Indian Education teachers, coordinators, directors, parents of Indian Education students, community members and non-Native educators.

“It was an overwhelming feeling of happiness to be acknowledged as the teacher of the year in a room full of educators that are also doing amazing work in their Indian Education programs across the state,” Stately said. “I am grateful and very appreciative for being awarded for doing this work in our elementary schools.”

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