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DL 'Teacher of Year' honors go to Manke

Detroit Lakes teachers had a difficult decision this time around when voting for Teacher of the Year. But the ballots were tallied, and Shan Manke was award the honor Thursday evening.

Starting six years ago, the Education Minnesota Detroit Lakes Teacher of the Year celebration was a small one, with about 10 people at the event. It has certainly grown in past few years.

Nominated for the EMDL Teacher of the Year award were Manke, Bonnie Mohs and Pam Daly. Daly is a teacher at the Detroit Lakes Middle School, Mohs at the high school, and Manke at Roosevelt Elementary.

Nominees were asked to have a colleague introduce them. Middle school teacher Colleen Vollmers introduced Daly.

"It is a privilege to call her my friend," she said.

After talking to Daly's students, Vollmers reported back that kids said Daly "sure loves her horses," helps students, is open with them and makes time for them. "Thank you for being there every single day," they concluded.

Becky Williams introduced co-worker Manke. When Williams moved to Detroit Lakes, she said she wondered whom she would find to run with in the mornings. She found Manke.

"I found a running friend, a good friend and a wonderful teacher," she said.

Some people ask how they can run marathons, and Williams said Manke "runs a marathon every day" at school with her kids.

She added that Manke is a team player, humble and willing to try new things. She doesn't just use her lesson plan from one year to the next, but instead comes up with new ideas.

"She teaches not with her mind, but with her heart."

Barb Oistad introduced Mohs.

"She is a fabulous teacher and wonderful friend," Oistad said of Mohs.

In anticipation of her retirement this year, Oistad said Mohs isn't just coasting through her last year, but instead turning all of her lesson plans into a PowerPoint for the teacher that will take over her position.

Besides all the work Mohs has done at the school and with the student council, she gives outside of work as well.

There's not a benefit in Becker County Mohs doesn't sew something for, put a cookbook together for or donate something to, Oistad said.

"She is always giving to others," she said. "She's an amazing person to work with."

EMDL President Jim Granger presented Manke with a plaque for earning the title of Teacher of the Year.

When Manke comes home each day, she said her husband, Rick, tells her, '"You must have fun every day.' It truly is. I have the best people to work with."

After 29 years of teaching, Manke looked back to when her career started in Felton, Minn. When she was hired, she said the administration told her they averaged 10 kids a year. That fall, 30 kids showed up.

Past recipients of the EMDL Teacher of the Year award and retired teachers were recognized Thursday evening as well.

New this year, the EMDL organization presented a Friend of Education award, going to LuAnn Porter. Granger presented the award based on the "character and commitment" of the recipient.

Upon accepting, Porter said, "You've humbled me."

She said she is blessed to be a part of the community and to work with the staff and administration at Detroit Lakes Public Schools. Porter has served on the school board for 21 years, and said she does not plan to run for re-election.

"I'm not often speechless. I never would have expected this. I'm the most proud of this (award)," she said.

"I have loved every minute of it," she added of her time on the board.