Education

Minneapolis English teacher named Minnesota Teacher of the Year 2024

A person poses for a portrait
Tracy Byrd, an English teacher at Washburn High School, was named Minnesota Teacher of the Year.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Updated: 4:47 p.m.

Minneapolis high school teacher Tracy Byrd took the stage Sunday amid a minute-long standing ovation to accept the state’s 2024 Teacher of the Year award.

Byrd teaches ninth grade English at Washburn High School, his alma mater. 

“This is too much,” he said during the ceremony as he thanked his friends, family and school community. “I’m just gonna say thank you.” 

Washburn High School English educator named MN Teacher of the Year
Byrd is the 60th recipient of the statewide award and the third from Minneapolis schools.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Byrd became a teacher in 2017, several years after leaving a career in the financial field, according to Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers union. He first started working in schools as a hall supervisor and coach in Wayzata before earning his teaching license. 

“True access to education can change the trajectory of a student,” Byrd said. “It could be the spark that ignites the flame for a young student into a field they didn’t know existed. To me, that is the purpose of education.” 

In a nomination letter, a fellow teacher said his dedication to students stands out, as does his dynamic energy that he brings into the classroom.

Washburn High School English educator named MN Teacher of the Year
“This is too much,” he said during the ceremony as he thanked his friends, family and school community. “I’m just gonna say thank you.” 
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Michael Houston, the 2023 teacher of the year, introduced Byrd at the ceremony Sunday. He said Byrd was chosen from “an incredible array of change-makers” and that “Tracy Byrd believes that all kids are resilient and it is our duty to build capacity with them.”

Byrd is the 60th recipient of the statewide award and the third from Minneapolis schools. Education Minnesota organizes the Teacher of the Year selection, which is done by a committee of education business, and government representatives.

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