Rochester teacher in the running for Minnesota Teacher of the Year

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(ABC 6 News) – A teacher in the Rochester Public Schools is one of the nine finalists for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year award.

Natalia Benjamin is an English language and ethnic studies teacher at Century High School.

"I think it’s an honor and humbling, I think it speaks to the work that we do across the board. I feel like I’m just representing a section of all of the teachers," Benjamin said.

This year will be her seventh year at Century High School. She was one of 75 candidates for this year’s Minnesota Teacher of the Year award.

"She is just really I think one of the best teachers I’ve ever met and it’s been a thrill to work with her," Dr. Jenna Cushing-Leubner said.

Cushing-Leubner is just one of a handful of other heritage language educators from Minnesota that nominated Benjamin.

"There isn’t enough time to list all of the reasons that it made sense to nominate Natalia for this award," Cushing-Leubner said.

Just one of the reasons Benjamin was nominated was because of the work she does with heritage speakers. She works with students with multi-lingual and multi-cultural backgrounds.

If Benjamin were to win the award, Cushing-Leubner said, "I think it would mean recognizing the real impact and power of multi-lingual teachers of color who do ethnic studies work together with multi-lingual youth of color in our school system."

"I would hope that I could represent everybody that I can do honor to the work that so many educators do every day," Benjamin said.

The new Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be announced Wednesday night. You can live stream it here.