A high school teacher from the FAIR School in downtown Minneapolis is Minnesota's 2014 Teacher of the Year.
Thomas Rademacher, 32, teaches English at the school, which is part of the West Metro Education Program, a voluntary integration district.
Rademacher says his favorite part of teaching is using literature to connect his students to the world outside the classroom.
"Real and challenging conversations about race and gender and poverty and the way that they affect the people in our room and the people in the world, those are skills and ideas that kids can then take with them to whatever they're going to," he said.
Rademacher is Minnesota's 50th teacher of the year, and the first from the West Metro Education Program.
In a nomination letter, student Asyana Eddy praised him for doing "anything in his power" to help students succeed. Eddy says Rademacher gives students the freedom to approach subjects with creativity, and he teaches students that their thoughts matter.
To be eligible for the award, nominees must spend at least half their time working directly with students. They must also have at least three years of teaching experience.
The award is sponsored by the teachers union Education Minnesota.