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Sahley Named 2022 LEA Teacher of the Year

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Mavis Fodness

Surprise and gratitude emanated from high school English teacher Amy Sahly as she accepted the 2022 Luverne Education Association Teacher of the Year plaque Monday afternoon in the new middle-high school commons.
“I was surprised,” Sahly said after the ceremony. “We have so many great teachers in Luverne that every year it could be anybody.”
The 2021 recipient, Lucy Rofshus, was matron of ceremonies for the annual event that honors teachers on the first day of American Education Week. The rest of the week is dedicated to other employee groups.
“Public schools are the cornerstones of our communities,” Rofshus said. “During American Education Week, we celebrate public education and show our appreciation for the men and women who make a difference in students’ lives every day.”
As is tradition, the introduction of the new teacher honoree was made by reading comments from the nomination forms:
“They are a dedicated educator who knows her content well and also knows how to deliver the content in a way that is engaging for students.”
“They build a culture of high expectations and respect for learning in her classroom and those expectations of excellence impact other classes and our school overall.”
“Students enjoy her sometimes quirky passion for her subject matter and her fun, yet serious, personality overall.”
Sahly, who grew up in Sioux Falls and graduated from Lincoln High School, knew at a young age she wanted to be a teacher, following in the footsteps of her mother and maternal grandmother.
“I liked how every day has both variety and routine — each class period is different, but each day follows the same structure,” she said. “I like both the predictability and unpredictability, if that makes sense.”
Originally, Sahly focused on becoming a French teacher, but in college the writing and speaking in English was easier and she switched her major.
Luverne High School has been her first and only school in which she has taught. She was hired 22 years ago and teachers grades 11-12 English and advanced placement literature classes.
“This was actually my first job interview,” she said. “I was very fortunate to get this position right out of college and have always been happy with my decision to teach here.”
As a child with an English teacher as a mother, Sahly developed a love of reading and “losing myself in other worlds and having experiences I could never have in real life.” She tries to keep that level of energy and surprise when teaching.
“There is a certain amount of drama that I think helps get students fired up about literature,” she said. “I have sort of trained myself to ‘forget’ what is coming next in whatever we are reading, so that if one character betrays another or someone unexpectedly dies, I can be surprised all over again with the kids, which makes it more interesting both for me and them.”
Sahly takes the passion for teaching into her membership with the LEA.
“The LEA is so important because everyone has opinions on teaching, but the only people who really understand what it is like in the classroom are other teachers,” she said.
“Whenever we needed to change gears for covid or construction and whatever else, everyone in the LEA pulled together and made sure no one got left behind, which really means a lot.”
With her more than two decades in Luverne, Sahly now has colleagues, who are former students. She continues to be their teacher in becoming a mentor for the next generation of instructors.
“I have quite a few students in class now whose parents I had as students, which amazes me because I truly don’t feel like I’ve been teaching for that long — I still remember being nervous and new and unsure of where things were or how to do things,” she said.
Sahly also shares her love of quilting with students, offering a hand sewing enrichment flex option that most don’t expect from an English teacher.

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