A high note: Rosemount choir instructor named 2013 Teacher of the Year finalist

Rosemount High School choral instructor Steven Albaugh, one of 10 finalists for the 2013 Teacher of the Year, says he already has his prize.

Rosemount High School choral instructor Steve Albaugh is one of 10 finalists for the 2013 Teacher of the Year, which is bestowed by Education Minnesota. (File photo)

Rosemount High School choral instructor Steve Albaugh is one of 10 finalists for the 2013 Teacher of the Year, which is bestowed by Education Minnesota. (File photo)

It happened when he discovered how many times he was nominated for the award by current and past students and colleagues.

There were 64 of them.

“It’s really emotional,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s very touching. … The fact that my students and families did that on my behalf without me knowing about it, that was a prize enough, an award enough. That was kind of special.”

The finalist announcement was made Monday afternoon by Education Minnesota, the 70,000-member statewide educators union.

Albaugh, who teaches students in ninth through 12th grades at the school, was chosen as a finalist from a group of 39 semifinalists by a panel of 25 leaders in the areas of education, business, government and nonprofits.

“I’m shocked,” Albaugh said. “I’m incredibly overwhelmed. It is such a huge honor.”

Albaugh was hired to join the staff at Rosemount High School by former principal and current state Sen. Greg Clausen in 2000 after completing graduate studies at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and being a choral instructor at Eagan High School from 1995-98 and in his home state of Iowa for several years.

He has helped the Rosemount choral program grow from 210 students in 2000 to 510 students and 13 choirs this year. During the same time, the choral department added two other staff members – Gina Toso and Laura Sandham.

“I’m incredibly humbled because there are so many other phenomenal teachers,” Albaugh said.

Albaugh said the attention he’s received from the award is more about the students and the program they have built.

“It’s about the students and how they grow through the music,” he said.

Albaugh said he tries to create an environment where students feel safe and included – from the one who is a soloist to another who simply enjoys being part of the group.

He said he hopes to instill in students confidence and a greater appreciation of life and beauty.

He feels that choral instruction should be viewed as the cornerstone of education because it touches on so many areas, including science, math, art, history, in addition building personal, physical and mental development.

With 13 years at the school, Albaugh said it’s been phenomenal to carry on the tradition of excellence for the first choral program in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District.

“Being in this building, it really is a special feeling,” he said. “It is hard to explain. I love Rosemount and love what we’ve been able to build as a choral program.”

There were 135 Teacher of the Year candidates for this program year.

The selection panel meets again May 4 to conduct individual interviews with the 10 finalists and to cast votes for the 2013 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

The 2012 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Jackie Roehl of the Edina School District, will announce this year’s honoree at a banquet at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park on Sunday, May 5.

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