by Mike Knaak
This year’s Minnesota Teacher of the year grew up in St. Joseph.
Jessica Davis, a math teacher at South St. Paul Second School, was selected from a field of nine finalists. A total of 168 teachers were nominated for the 55th annual award announced on May 5 in St. Paul.
Davis is the daughter of Elaine and Roger Frie. She attended Kennedy Elementary School and graduated from Apollo High School in 1997.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Mankato and her master’s degree from Hamline University.
She began her teaching career in 2006 at Harding High School in St. Paul and has taught at South St. Paul since 2009.
Her motto is Every Student Matters.
“Every student deserves to be empowered by their own voice and elevated to their highest potential,” Davis said. “Most important(ly) they deserve educators who want the same.”
Davis advises students of color and helps the students see their potential and connect with professionals of color.
In a letter of recommendation for Davis, a colleague, Luke V. Olson wrote: “One measure a person can use when judging another is, would you trust your own children with this person? When my son was studying to become a teacher, he needed a mentor teacher, and asked me for advice…. I suggested Jess, because she exemplifies everything I hope my son would become as a teacher.”
Davis is the 55th recipient of the prestigious award, and the first from the South St. Paul district.
An independent selection committee representing Minnesota leaders in education, business and government chooses the Minnesota Teacher of the Year from individuals who are nominated and who then choose to become a candidate.
Education Minnesota, the 86,000-member statewide educators union, organizes and underwrites the Teacher of the Year program. Candidates include pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers and Adult Basic Education teachers from public or private schools.