Echo Park 4th grade teacher Qorsho Hassan awarded Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Elementary school teacher Qorsho Hassan has been named the 2020 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Education Minnesota announced on Thursday.

Hassan, a Somali American teacher, is starting her first year at Echo Park Elementary School in Burnsville. Previously, she taught at Gideon Pond Elementary School, and she taught for three years in Ohio and one year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as part of a Fulbright Fellowship.

In an essay to the Minnesota Teacher of the Year selection judges, Hassan stated that she relates to the experiences of marginalized students and fights to give them a high-quality education.

"I challenge systems of oppression such as poverty and racism by demanding more resources for my students and their families," she wrote. "I believe that if students are in a learning space where they feel safe, seen, and heard, they will succeed and that is what I am able to provide for my students.”

Hassan also emphasized her ability to build relationships with her students and challenge them to reach their highest potential.

Nicole Jenne, the parent of one of Hassan’s former fourth-grade students, wrote a letter supporting her nomination for Teacher of the Year.

"While we see so much focus in schools on how a teacher’s classroom is performing academically, we rarely see or highlight how a classroom is performing emotionally and socially," Jenne wrote. “I had the honor of being able to go into her classroom on occasion and each time I would enter you could feel a sense of calmness and community.

"These students knew they were cared for, they knew that this was their place, for some it may have been the only place they felt as if the belonged. Each one of these students are going to grow up and go into this world, while we all want them to be prepared academically, we also want them to be prepared to be a positive community member.”

Hassan is the 56th recipient of the Teacher of the Year award. She was one of 10 finalists announced in April.