Bulman honored by Minnesota Education while Westonka honors teachers, volunteers

By Nicole Brodzik
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Corey Bulman received his Minnesota Teacher of the Year award at a banquet on May 7. (Photo by Janet Hotstetter, courtesy of Education Minnesota)

Mound Westonka High School English Teacher Corey Bulman was announced as this year’s Minnesota Teacher of the Year on May 7 at a banquet in Bloomington.

Just two days earlier, Bulman was given the award for Westonka Teacher of the Year by the school district.

“He continually brings great insight, patience, respect and wisdom to individuals and in group encounters,” Superintendent Kevin
Borg said. “That unconditional love and acceptance of our students and families takes tremendous courage, passion and leadership.”

During his acceptance speech for that award, Bulman credited his work and his passion for teaching to the teacher’s he had growing up.

“I think it’s interesting that I teach the top literature class that the school district offers because when I was in first grade, I received special ed services for reading,” Bulman said. “The only reason that that trajectory led to here, was because of the teachers in my life. So, I’m proud to do this for a living and I’m proud to do this for a living with the people in this room.”

Bulman is the 53rd Minnesota Teacher of the Year winner and the first from Westonka School District. He has been with Mound Westonka High School his entire career, helping create the Advanced Placement and Honors English programs in his 17 years there.

Other educators up for Westonka Teacher of the Year were Shirley Hills Primary School’s Lori Knauf, Grandview Middle School’s Jean Ann Thayer and Hilltop Primary School’s Cynthia Loewen. Those three were also nominees for Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

Borg said that Knauf is very passionate about her teaching of language arts.

“Those that are on the Language Arts committee, those who have taught with her, those who have been in workshops with her, those who have walked past her classroom in the morning, those that she has tutored and all the students she has had can attest to her passion,” Borg said.

Loewen was credited for her ability to build relationships with students and families in the district. Borg said her colleagues know her best for her positive way with her students and the inspiration she provides to her coworkers.

“Thank you for your focus, your dedication and your great service to our kids,” Borg said.

Thayer has been a guidance counselor at Grandview for 20 years. Borg said her staff sees her as sort of a diplomat who can explain difficult issues to students and families in ways where they understand what is going on and how to best move forward.

“Parents and kids love her,” Borg said. “She’s very well respected for her good judgement and knowledge. She builds very strong, trusting relationships with her kids where they feel open to share.”

Next up was the presentation of the Ann Bremer White Hawk Award for, “service that makes a meaningful contribution to Westonka students, an individual school or program, or the district overall, either over a period of time or in a single, significant way.” The award is named after late school board member Ann Bremer who passed away in February after a two-year battle with cancer. This is the third year Westonka has given out this award.

Ann Bremer White Hawk Award recipients were honored by the Westonka School Board on May 5. (Nicole Brodzik/The Laker)

Borg opened the presentation of awards with a heartfelt speech about his former colleague and friend, and the reason she was so well loved and respected in the Westonka community.

“So, why is this named the Ann Bremer White Hawk Award?” Borg said. “It is because Ann, with her last days, gave everything she could to her family and to all of you. Ann found out that she just had a couple more months, and she still had time to give. She still had time to fight. She knew she could make a differnce. What a blessing to have such a guide post.”

The awards were handed out by Bremer’s daughter, Paige.

Award winners were Howard Leopold, Robert Moulton and Jennifer Velarde, chosen from 12 nominated community members.