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Whitney McKinley, art teacher at Hiawatha College Prep, was named a semifinalist for Education Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year award. The field of possible candidates for the honor was narrowed to 34 last month from an initial field of 115 candidates from across the state.

Whitney was recently featured for using art to teach social justice topics. “I love to see the spark that happens as they translating an idea in their head to paper or another medium,” she said at the time. “They are able to express themselves as individuals in a really powerful way.”

The selection panel planned to review the semifinalists’ portfolios again in late March, and they will choose about 10 finalists from among the group. The current Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Amy Hewett-Olatunde, will announce her successor at a banquet May 15 at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Education Minnesota, the statewide educators union, organizes and underwrites the Teacher of the Year program. Candidates include pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade and Adult Basic Education teachers, from public or private schools. Learn more on the Education Minnesota website.