Austin CLC special education teacher wins ‘Teacher of the Year’ award

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(ABC 6 News) – An early childhood special education teacher at the Austin Community Learning Center was the recipient of the Austin ‘Teacher of the Year’ award given out by Austin Public Schools on Wednesday morning.

Heather Ruzek, who has worked with early childhood programming in Austin for the last 17 years, was awarded the honor at a special surprise announcement at Neveln Elementary School. Family, district administrators and well-wishers were all in attendance to congratulate her.

According to Austin Teacher of the Year committee chair Dave Brown, Heather was one of 21 nominees considered for the award. “It’s always hard to select just one of our nominees to be Teacher of the Year,” said Brown, “but when the committee met to go over the nominees, we were all just blown away by Heather.”

Ruzek was awarded a plaque that states “in appreciation for her dedication to education and students.” The plaque was presented by the Austin Education Association.

“It truly is an honor,” said Ruzek. “I know Austin has so many wonderful teachers, and it just means so much to me to be selected for this.”

Ruzek will be in the running for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Nominees for the state award must go through a portfolio process and be selected to move forward. Over the more than 20-year life of the program, Austin has had two nominees make it to the semifinalist stage and one make it to the final ten.