by Dennis Dalman
Long-time Sartell teacher and community volunteer Joe Schulte is one of 44 teachers who has been named a semi-finalist for the 2023 Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award.
Raised in Sartell, Schulte teaches technology education at Sartell High School. The annual Teacher of the Year winner will be announced at a May 7 banquet at the St. Paul RiverCentre. Now in its 59th year, the award is sponsored by Education Minnesota, a statewide educators’ union.
The current Teacher of the Year is Sarah Lancaster, a teacher at Onamia Elementary School.
In January, Education Minnesota released the names of more than 130 candidates for this year’s award. Among those selected were nine from the Sartell-St. Stephen School District, including Schulte. The others were Cris Drais, first-grade teacher at Pine Meadow Primary School; Barbara Eaton, special education teacher at Oak Ridge Elementary Learning Center; Karrie Fredrickson, social studies teacher at Sartell High School; Shannon Houghton, third-grade teacher at Riverview Intermediate School; Holly Lathe, music teacher at Pine Meadow Primary School; Nikki Perius, third-grade teacher at Riverview Intermediate School, James Sinkel Jr., social studies teacher at Sartell High School; and Lindsey Trimbo, kindergarten teacher at Oak Ridge Elementary Learning Center.
In early March the list of nominees was reduced to 45 teachers, and Schulte made the list. The panel of judges are now reviewing those semi-finalists’ portfolios once again and will then select from 10-12 finalists. The winner will be announced at the May 7 banquet.
On the Sartell-St. Stephen School District website, Schulte is quoted as saying the following after learning of his semi-finalist status for Teacher of the Year: “In ISD 748 and previously with District 742 (St. Cloud), I have worked alongside some of the best in the state. They have challenged me to become my best, supported me and teamed with me throughout. I have learned so much from them and I hope to represent and share the great work that we get to do together.”
Joe Schulte’s skills and his teaching expertise have had positive effects not just on students but on so many other aspects of life in Sartell year after year. A multiple nominee for Sartell Citizen of the Year, he was honored with that award in 2015.
The emcee at the awards ceremony listed just some of Schulte’s volunteer projects: the Sartell Farmers’ Market, Pinecone Central Park, the Verso Mill Project, the Sartell Garden Club, the Sartell Fire Department, the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church’s summer bazaar, youth ministry programs and Casting for a Cure charity event, organizing high-school pep fests and coaching youth baseball and basketball – to name just some of his activities.
He also works with technology-arts students in SabreCON (Sabre Construction). It is a partnership with Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity in which Schulte’s students build homes for families in need of good, affordable housing. Schulte has also developed an internship program for his students at the DeZurik manufacturing plant.
Schulte is a member of the Knights of Columbus, served as its leader and worked on Knights’ projects for the entire St. Cloud Catholic Diocese to help secure education for families in need.