Bayfield teacher earns statewide recognitionBAYFIELD, Wis. — A 20-year-veteran of the School District of Bayfield was named Wisconsin’s High School Teacher of the Year.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
BAYFIELD, Wis. — A 20-year-veteran of the School District of Bayfield was named Wisconsin’s High School Teacher of the Year.
Richard Erickson, who teaches chemistry, physics and alternative education for the district that boasts about 457 students, was surprised with an assembly when State Superintendent Tony Evers made the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the district’s Bayfield High School.
“I’m still processing this one; I am very honored,” Erickson said after the announcement.
“I was not surprised,” said Bayfield Principal Scott Stralka.
“It’s very exciting,” said Bayfield Superintendent David Aslyn. “He’s the kind of teacher that goes the extra mile for his students every day. This is just a fitting honor for an outstanding educator.”
The journey to earn the honor began with a fellowship with the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation, Aslyn said.
As part of the honor, Erickson will receive $3,000 from the foundation.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Erickson spent the first decade of his teaching career in a suburb of St. Paul. Then he made the move to Bayfield in 1994. While he’s taught chemistry and physics for the last 30 years, he also earned certification for alternative education about three years ago.
“A lot of what I do is place based and project based,” Erickson said. He said his preference is for projects that take place outside of the school, focused on Lake Superior.
That project-based curriculum was a driving factor to get the science teacher involved in alternative education, he said.
“For our students to succeed, we need great educators in our schools,” said Evers, who traveled to Wausau and Bayfield on Wednesday to announce teachers who made the grade among peers, students and parents.
In addition to Erickson, Anne Hasse, a fifth-grade teacher at Wakanda Elementary School in Menomonie; Lynne Kohlhepp, a specific learning disabilities teacher at Wausau West High School; and Jane McMahon, an English-language arts teacher at Jack Young Middle School in Baraboo were also honored as teachers of the 2013-14 school year.
Next week, Erickson will head to Madison, which will lead to Wisconsin’s nomination for National Teacher of the Year.
“He has my vote,” Stralka said.
Erickson said teaching has its challenges, but believes it’s about making connections.
“I’ve been very fortunate to fall into a career I love,” Erickson said. “I have a lot of passion for it and I try to convey to my students that things they’re passionate about, they should pursue them.”