Hopkins teacher Layne Bell has been named a semifinalist for this year’s Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Bell is an English language arts teacher at Hopkins High School.
“Finding out I was selected as a semifinalist is a huge honor, “ she said. “The process of being nominated and creating my portfolio has been a gift of an opportunity to reflect on why I love teaching and what insights I might share.”
Bell has been teaching for 17 years with 14 of those years at Hopkins. She works in the Hopkins Alternative Program and has seen many scholars come to the classroom “bearing the scars of trauma which have long impacted their ability to do school.”
She hopes her classroom will offer a place to heal. Love sets the stage for everything Bell does in her classroom. She uses love as a tool to transform her scholars’ lives. With love at the core of her teaching philosophy, she is able to help her students exercise their voice, think critically about systems that oppress and practice power to affect change within those systems.
Bell believes that one of those systems of oppression is education—she has witnessed that education does not serve all equally. In response, she has created a curriculum that encompasses social justice standards, 21st Century skills, and social/emotional learning standards.
“I guide scholars to identify systemic racism, analyze who and how people are impacted, celebrate figures and organizations that work to combat racism, and subsequently practice their ability to impact change,” Bell said. “We understand the system in order to gain the power to dismantle the systems that cause harm.”
Bell is one of 25 semifinalists for the award. A panel will review the semifinalists’ portfolios and review semifinalist video submissions later this month and will select up to 10 finalists.
Candidates for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Program include pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade, early childhood family education and adult basic education teachers, from public or private schools.