CTN Journal

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Reporter Jennifer Anderson and photojournalist Matt Szymanski profile the people of the Coon Rapids community, one story at a time. Everyone has a story... we want to tell yours.

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  1. Jennifer Anderson

    Multi-Media Journalist

    CTN Journal


    11215 Robinson Drive
    Coon Rapids, MN 55433

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Each year thousands of teachers across Minnesota are whittled down to a select few, in the running for Teacher of the Year. A pair of local teachers are among the best of the best.

One look around Ashley Topp’s English classroom at Blaine High School says a lot. Colorful, motivational sayings and feel-good memes are everywhere. Her motto is clear – and impossible to miss – as it is pasted across the wall in huge letters: #ShareTheAwesome.

Head up a floor at Blaine High School to Beth Dorsing’s classroom and you may find a slightly different tone in the math teacher’s space. You are likely to see more math puns than memes, as Dorsing proudly claims to readily “geek out” with her students.

Though their personalities are quite distinct, their vision for the school is the same.

Topp and Dorsing launched a new program at Blaine this year, Dignity Revolution. Crafted by motivational speaker Bob Lenz, Dignity Revolution aims to build character and celebrate students' self-worth in an effort to combat the culture of bullying.

“Empower kids to be able to stand up and understand their own personal worth,” said Dorsing, “but also it is a program that teaches them to stand up for others.”

Topp and Dorsing believe that students learn best, is first they feel valued. The teachers kicked off the school year by bringing Bob Lenz to Blaine High School to speak at a pep rally. After the visit, both teachers and students signed a pledge to stand up for the worth and dignity of everyone.

“I just want kids to know how great they are,” said Topp, “how wonderful they are, how they have the ability to learn and grow in every area.”

It's a goal both teachers model daily… and part of the reason they each earned statewide recognition.

The state's teacher's union, Education Minnesota, named Both Topp and Dorsing as semifinalists for Teacher of The Year. Selecting the 2018 Teacher of the Year began with more than 160 contenders.

Blaine High School was well-represented. The original list of candidates included six teachers from the school. Topp and Dorsing were among 43 semifinalists in the state. The Teacher of the Year winner is announced each May.

Accolades aside, Topp and Dorsing are busy making their classrooms – and school – better and better, one student at a time.

“To really let them know, ‘hey, I see you, I care about you, I want you to be successful,’” said Topp.

“I just want them to know that they are valued,” said Dorsing, “that they have potential. And if they work hard at it, they can be successful.”

Jennifer Anderson reporting

April 18, 2018