Home Creative writing Minnesota grads thank ‘incredible’ teachers who helped them succeed

Minnesota grads thank ‘incredible’ teachers who helped them succeed


Nan Wang and Wyatt Nissen

Mandarin teacherRoom Crétin-Derham

I met Nan Wang four years ago when I started studying Mandarin. I had always been interested in studying this language but it made me happy that I chose it. She was an excellent teacher and educator about China. During my freshman year, she took her students on little field trips, introducing us to Chinese festivals, great restaurants, and shops. She made me want to take a trip to China one day and maybe continue to study the language. I will always remember his positive way of teaching us his language and culture. She is amazing and will forever be etched in my memory!

Daniel Amborn and Isa Li

press adviserEdina High School

Mr. Amborn was my sophomore English teacher, but he’s also been the staff advisor for Edina High School’s newspaper, Zephyrus, for the past three years. As I got to know Mr. Amborn, I saw how he redefined what it means to be a teacher. He sees each of his students as people and recognizes the complexity of their lives. He takes the time to teach us about journalism, even though he’s still figuring it all out too. He’s never afraid to be candid about life. I am in awe of the care he puts into the lessons and activities. If I’m going through something or have to get rid of something, he’ll listen without judgment. To that end, he has been a formidable ally to the Asian American community. I truly wouldn’t be the person I am today without Mr. Amborn’s example of how to be a teacher and an authentic, compassionate human being.

Natalia Romero Arbelaez and Erin Tetter

ChoirmasterHarding High School

I’ve been in Mrs. Romero’s choir since my freshman year. She was like a mother at school for me! She never gave up on me, always supported me and motivated me to get through the most difficult days. Once, for example, I was very stressed about where to go to college and how I was going to pay for it. This led to an anxiety attack. She helped me through this ordeal and reassured me that I hadn’t figured it all out yet and that I’m amazing, talented and smart enough to do whatever I set my mind to. She showed humanity and allowed me to be human in her class. See an amazing POC [person of color] teacher who cares about her children also motivated me to become an educator!

Tracy Burk and Zoey Brutt

counselor, indian educationAll Nations Program at South High School

I’ve known Mrs. Burke since middle school. She helped me through some dark things back then. I was fighting all the time and going to his office and that was my safe place. She took my class to South High and that’s where I turned things around right away. I was enrolled in the All Nations program in South, which brought me into contact with other native children. I saw Mrs. Burke every Friday and she told me I was a good boy. She helped me with scholarships and applying for FAFSA. Now I’m a Wallin Scholar heading to the University of Minnesota for a degree in Native American Studies. I have his phone number and I intend to stay connected. She helped me realize that I could do whatever I wanted.

Shannon petticoat and Max Rouillard Horne

Math team coachHarding High School

I’ve been on the math team for five years. My college didn’t have enough students to field a team, so we took a bus to Harding every Tuesday and Thursday and I always looked forward to it. I was the runt of the team, but everyone was so nice, especially Mrs. Pettipiece. She was always the person I went to when I was confused about something or needed help. This year she became my main teacher and I saw her every day. When I recently dealt with a difficult personal issue, she just listened to me and said, “This is really difficult. And, “Hey, if you need anything, let me know.” She made me feel safe at school. She always checks in with me to make sure I’m okay. I go to St. Olaf in the fall to pursue physics, which is very rich in math. She was definitely a big help in getting me there. She is just nice to people, always ready to help children. He’s a good person.

Barbara Bursac and Hailey Highland

language arts teacherWhite Bear Lake Area High School

In October 2021, I was filling out scholarship applications. I had been accepted into my dream school, North Dakota State University, and one of the scholarships available was for full tuition for an incoming engineering student. I wrote my essays and knew that if there was anyone I could trust to help me edit such an important statement, it would be Mrs. Bursack. A compassionate, dedicated, and phenomenal teacher, Ms. Bursack spent hours reviewing my essays with me, and it paid off. At the beginning of March, I received an e-mail informing me that I had received the full scholarship. It changed my future. I can now go to university without fear of going into debt and have the confidence to focus solely on my studies. But she taught me another important lesson: yes, work hard but also take care of myself and talk to people when I need help. Putting myself first was a huge lesson she taught me that I will take to college.

Chris Alex and Christine Alexander

Mounds View Secondary SchoolCreative writing teacher

Ms. Alexander teaches my senior creative writing class. She is the kindest and most caring teacher I have ever had. She always takes the time to come see each student and talk to us. Even when she had skin cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy treatments, she continued to come to school. She is also very fair with the work she assigns and cares more about quality than quantity. She doesn’t put too much pressure on us. She is the best teacher ever!