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Nunn named DL teacher of year

SHAD NUNN (left) has been named Teacher of the Year by his peers in the Detroit Lakes School District. He teaches high school math.

"You don't get into teaching to win awards, so I'm actually kind of embarrassed," said Shad Nunn, Detroit Lakes high school teacher, on the afternoon he was named Detroit Lakes' Teacher of the Year.

The modest math teacher, who grew up in Frazee, has been helping high schoolers get through what can be an unpopular subject for 18 years, all in Detroit Lakes.

"You just try to take something you're talented at, which for me is math, and try to make it easier for kids who don't like it but maybe help them respect and appreciate the subject or at least do their best," said Nunn, who won the award at a ceremony Monday held at the American Legion and put on by the Detroit Lakes Chapter of Education Minnesota.

The award, which has been around since 2003, doesn't come with much more than a candy bouquet, a traveling trophy for the school and some bragging rights.

It's simply to celebrate the profession that impacts every single child in the community.

"It's teacher nominated, so we sent it out to the teachers and they say who they think is deserving to be teacher of the year," said Committee Member Del Hilderbrandt. "So you're nominated by your peers."

According to Nunn, that is exactly what makes the award so special.

Out of the 240 teachers in the Detroit Lakes School District, this year, he's No. 1.

"It makes it special to think, oh really? That's what they think of me? That many?" Nunn said.

A large number of teachers also thought the same thing about runner up for the award, Mike Daly, the phy ed teacher at Rossman Elementary.

Daly has taught at Rossman for 12 years, but within the Detroit Lakes School District for 25 years.

"I have 280 kids and every single one of them is different every day, so it's a challenge every day," said Daly, "their personalities haven't developed, so one day they're sad and the next they're too happy, so that's the challenge, but it's fun."

Daly, whose wife Pam also teaches language arts in the Middle School, says the kids are the fun part -- it's the grown ups that can sometimes make teaching difficult.

"The expectations of us change, and it seems like right now it's people who have no idea what we're doing that are making the changes," said Daly, adding that teachers are often the front line for opinions.

"But I think working in a place for this many years you also see so many nice people, and that's how you get through every day is to see all those teachers, staff, kids and even all the retirees that come back for this thing," said Daly.

In addition to the retirees that attended this year's event, there were also those intent on joining their ranks.

Eleven Detroit Lakes teachers were honored Monday as well, as they wrap up a combined 257 years of service to children's education.

And some of those students had a chance to say a few words about this year's teacher of the year, as President of the DL Chapter of Education Minnesota Denise Kettner read comments Nunn's students had written about him:

"Shad-a-lack Nun-scalade ... The reason he's such a great teacher is because of his excitement while teaching his class. He has a lot of dedication to teaching and you can always have fun in his classes."

"Mr. Nunn is determined and patient. He always remains calm and positive and never gives up on any of his students. He sees the potential in everyone."

"I like how Mr. Nunn, no matter how lost I am, can always manage to make things make sense to me."

"Mr. Nunn is very caring and understanding, and he's always happy, so it made going to class fun. You can also see how much he wants his students to succeed. If anyone deserves this award, it's him."

Nunn lives in Detroit Lakes with his wife, Ashley and two kids -- Mariska, a first grader at Rossman Elementary and Andrew, a preschooler.

If he so chooses, Nunn can submit his name to the state level.