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Former Bethel Student Named a Finalist for 2013 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

David Howard has been named one of the top 10 finalists for 2013 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Howard, who received his teaching license through Bethel’s M.A. in Teaching (M.A.T.) program in 2006, teaches 7th grade American History at Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School in St. Paul, Minn.

Howard’s journey to the teaching profession has taken many turns. After attending college for a few years and then working at a department store, Howard enrolled in Bethel Seminary. In his courses, he felt called to “ministry” but was unsure what form it should take. On one occasion, Associate Professor Ralph Hammond sat him down and asked him what he really wanted to do as a ministry.

“I said I wanted to work with urban or ‘at risk kids,” Howard explains. “Professor Hammond said, ‘Then that’s your calling. Become a teacher and do that as your ministry. Kids need your love, too; it doesn’t have to come from the pulpit. In fact, most of the time it’s better when it doesn’t.’ His words confirmed for me that I should teach. I enrolled in the M.A.T. program at Bethel soon after. I learned there that teaching—or anything else we do—really is a ministry. This truth was modeled by my Bethel instructors.”

“It’s nice to be selected (by the judging panel) out of the original 139 teachers nominated,” Howard says, “but what was most satisfying to me was to be nominated by the families in the first place. The teaching profession rarely offers that kind of positive feedback, and their act alone energized me in the classroom.”

Howard emphasizes that he is just one of the hundreds of great teachers in Minnesota, and it feels humbling to be singled out. “I’m where I’m supposed to be now, and it only took me 32 years to get here,” he says.

Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers union, has held the Teacher of the Year contest for 49 years to honor the work of public school educators across the state.

Every fall, one teacher from each Minnesota school district is nominated by students, parents, and teachers. A panel of 25 government, non-profit, education, and business leaders then narrows the field to 135 teacher candidates, then to 39 semifinalists, and then to 10 finalists. The Teacher of the Year will be named at a banquet on May 5.