By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN After being announced as the Delano Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Jim VanCura has been named a semifinalist in the Minnesota Teacher of the Year competition.
VanCura teaches Language Arts 11, College in the Schools (CIS) Literature and CIS Composition at Delano High School.
“Jim’s dedication and leadership to our students, our staff, the school, the community, and the educator profession have contributed to this honor,” said Delano High School Principal Steve Heil.
Heil said VanCura’s nomination comes from within the nearly 70,000-member educator’s union, which narrows the field down to 135 candidates, with only 39 becoming semifinalists.
“Ten finalists will be chosen in late March for the final interview for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year,” Heil said. “He will be honored in May when the Minnesota Teacher of the Year is announced.”
Current Minnesota Teacher of the Year Jackie Roehl will announce her successor at a banquet at the Marriott Minneapolis Northwest in Brooklyn Park May 5.
VanCura believes that education is power. His role as a teacher involves promoting academic curiosity, developing critical thinkers, and fostering human dignity.
VanCura’s role as an English teacher involves fostering comprehension and appreciation for literature, modeling effective means of communication, and empowering students with knowledge and opportunities.
From an academic perspective, his students analyze and articulate cultural values within historical contexts. From a philosophical perspective, VanCura emphasizes the value of intrinsic rewards, as well as the learning process, in order for students to develop a genuine appreciation for their talents and efforts.
In addition to teaching, VanCura has served on a variety of committees including the technology committee, the finance committee, staff development committee, the Delano Youth Baseball/Softball Association, and the executive council of the Delano Teachers’ Association.
He has also coached junior high football, basketball, and varsity softball.
VanCura graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 1992, and received his master’s degree from Hamline University in 2002.
He began teaching in International Falls, then landed in Delano, and has taught here ever since.
VanCura resides in Delano with his wife, Stacy, and their five children; Melissa, Samantha, Derek, Briana, and AJ.
In his spare time, Jim enjoys traveling, reading, participating in Tuff Mudders, and spending time with friends and family.