For Juris Terauds, helping his students find their passion in life is the highest honor he has ever achieved.
Juris, or "Mr. T" as his students knew him, served as a drafting and design instructor at Minnetonka High School for 31 years, along with working at Minnetonka East Junior High for five years prior. "My motivation was coming to school each day knowing my students were eager to learn and one day might find a passion for what I was teaching them," says Juris.
Many of Juris's students did in fact find a passion in what he was teaching them, such as Joseph Miller, a former student and current architect in Las Vegas. "Juris introduced me to architecture and ignited my passion for the field," says Joseph. "He was able to see the future of the field and implemented that future into the classroom preparing all students for success."
Not only did Juris take pride in the fact that some of his former students went on to become architects, he also took pride in the work they did and wanted to share it with everyone. For 20 years, Juris held "Parade of Homes" that showcased drawings and blue-prints that students made and displayed them in the Minnetonka High School commons. The event was well-known around the school and community. It gave Juris a chance to exhibit every student's hard work.
Bringing his love of architecture and engineering into the community, Juris gave many students the chance to participate in activities. Juris is the co-founder of the Minnesota State Architecture & Engineering Technology Challenge, a co-curricular competition that gives students the chance to solve real-world architectural and engineering problems. Juris coached the Minnetonka teams that competed at these events for 25 years and led them to win numerous state championships. During the summer months, Juris taught engineering and architecture classes to gifted West Metro students.
Juris's outstanding teaching career includes numerous awards and recognitions. Juris was chosen five times by MHS National Merit Semifinalists to receive the Honored Teacher Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching. He was awarded with two "Teacher of Excellence" awards, first in 2003 from the Minnesota Technology and Engineering Educators Association (MTEEA), and later in 2004 from the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA). In his final year of teaching, KARE 11 featured Juris and his class on a segment called "What's Cool in Your School," which showcases unique high school programs around Minnesota.
Beyond the lessons in architecture and engineering that he taught his students, Juris also placed importance on life skills he wanted his students to remember. Kindness, helping one another and doing the best one could without giving up were each emphasized in his classes. Whenever a challenge came up in class, Juris would use a phrase that his students knew well; "It's all about Love & Peace."
After more than 36 years, Juris still thinks of Minnetonka High School and the future generation of students within. "My advice to today's MHS students is always try to do your best, set high standards for yourself, and never give up on your dreams."