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MTEEA Recognizes Two Minnetonka Teachers
MTEEA Recognizes Two Minnetonka Teachers

Minnesota Technology and Engineering Education Association recognized two teachers from Minnetonka this year: Dawn Sorenson and Mitch Burfeind. Both Ms. Sorenson and Mr. Burfeind were honored with the MTEEA Teacher Excellence award, which recognizes educators that demonstrate exceptional teaching and innovation in the area of technology education. The pair attended the statewide MTEEA conference on September 27th, where they were presented the award in front of other Tech Ed teachers from around Minnesota.

"[Getting this award] was exciting," says Ms. Sorenson, who teaches robotics and wood shop classes at both MME and MMW. "I don't like to be in the limelight a lot, but sharing it with the Tech Ed group is different because those are the same people I've been seeing at that conference for 27 years." For her, the ceremony is also a way to celebrate the success of technology and engineering programs across Minnesota, even when Tech Ed is frequently on the "chopping block" for schools lacking sufficient funding.

While teaching, Ms. Sorenson's biggest goal is to make sure all students are exposed to Tech Ed opportunities. As a high schooler, she explains, she never had the option to take any Tech Ed classes, and it wasn't until college that she realized how much she enjoyed the field. By getting involved in technology and engineering programs at a younger age, students are able to see the wide variety of innovation and design that the field has to offer.

Mr. Burfeind, who teaches engineering and architecture classes at MHS, also believes in the importance of getting students involved in Tech Ed, especially in relation to their own life. In his classes, he frequently connects content to real-world events, and he gives students plenty of opportunities to plan individualized projects that center around a personal interest. "Letting students use something from their own life motivates them to go further into the topic and learn the concepts much more than if I had them create something that did not mean anything to them," he explains.

Both Ms. Sorenson and Mr. Burfeind agree that technology education has a unique way of engaging students through hands-on activities and collaboration. It's also a way to apply knowledge learned in science in math to the real world. As Ms. Sorenson puts it, Tech Ed "puts the reality into some of their classes."

Ms. Sorenson and Mr. Burfeind are now eligible for the International Technology and Engineering Education Association (ITEEA) award which will be awarded in the spring.

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