Created: April 21, 2020 10:38 PM
(ABC 6 News) - Paula Olson couldn't believe it when she was awarded Albert Lea's Teacher of the Year.
“I’m trying to absorb this because I truly, truly didn’t think that it would be me," said Olson, an Active Learning Center (ALC) English teacher.
Olson has taught for 19 years but this year might be her most challenging yet since she can't be with students.
“We want to just reach through that computer screen and give them a hug," Olson said.
Those hugs couldn't come soon enough.
"We just enjoy each other so it's really a hardship not to go up and give hugs to each other but it will come in time," said Jacque Sorensen, committee chair and a special education teacher.
Each nominee stood several feet apart at the parking lot of the Hammer Complex. Each was recognized for their work but they also recognized students.
"It's important that they know that they are important," said Jill Petersen, elementary instructional coach, and a nominee. "The academics are super important but the social connection is even more so."
Petersen hopes staff will come out of the pandemic stronger because of the challenges they've had to overcome from distance learning.
"We've all learned a lot of great things and now we're just all looking forward to being back to each other," Petersen said.
"Things seem to be getting better, I'm more optimistic," Olson said.
Staying positive even if their classrooms stay empty.
Albert Lea Area Schools recently announced a graduation ceremony will take place for the Class of 2020 but details on how it will be held are pending.
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