Austin Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teacher Heather Ruzek has been named the 2023 Austin Teacher of the Year.
Ruzek, who has worked with early childhood programming in Austin for the last 17 years, was surprised with the award in her classroom Wednesday morning by a coterie of family, district administrators, and well-wishers.
According to Austin Teacher of the Year committee chair Dave Brown, Heather was one of 21 nominees considered for the award. “It’s always hard to select just one of our nominees to be Teacher of the Year,” said Brown, “but when the committee met to go over the nominees, we were all just blown away by Heather.”
“It truly is an honor,” said Ruzek. “I know Austin has so many wonderful teachers, and it just means so much to me to be selected for this.”
Now that Ruzek has received Austin’s Teacher of the Year award, she will be in the running to be Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Nominees for the state award must go through a portfolio process and be selected to move forward. Over the more than 20-year life of the program, Austin has had two nominees make it to the semifinalist stage and one make it to the final ten.