Eric Songer was named the 2021 Teacher of the Year by the District 112 Foundation as part of their Excellence in Education Awards. Songer is a music teacher at Chaska Middle School West, teaching music and band to 6th through 8th graders. His knowledge isn’t just limited to band, though, as Songer has expanded his knowledge into evolving music styles, as well as music production and engineering as a means of keeping students involved and engaged. Songer has an infectious enthusiasm for teaching and believes that all students benefit from music education.
Songer made a positive contribution to the school community this year by being instrumental in helping the Music Department shift into hybrid and distance learning models. He was creative in setting up classroom structures that helped to preserve the integrity of the learning environment while also fostering a personal connection with each of his students. Throughout the past twelve months, Songer has visited students and families in the community, following social distancing guidelines, and has even organized driveway concerts. His colleagues praise him for shining his light amongst his peers, often speaking at national conferences to share his knowledge with other music educators. He promotes a team mentality and frequently sends staff nice emails or drops off “pick me up” donuts to peers he thinks could use some cheer. Songer has also introduced “Red Pants Thursday,” a day where staff members wear red pants to show solidarity and unity.
Songer’s students praise him for his commitment to education and for going above and beyond to connect with them and cheer them on. Devoting countless hours outside of school, Songer teaches students across the district how to play various musical instruments and various styles of music, igniting a passion for music in them that extends well beyond their school years. As one student stated, “Even though this year has been hard, Mr. Songer has kept us going and keeps being positive.”
The Excellence in Education Awards are a program of the District 112 Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing innovation and excellence in education throughout Eastern Carver County Schools. In addition to Songer, finalists for Teacher of the Year were: Jen Carlson, Clover Ridge Elementary School; Margaret Cassett, Chaska High School; Leeann Sit, La Academia; Andrew Waller, Chaska Middle School East. Fifty-one teachers were nominated this year representing every building in the district. As Teacher of the Year, Songer will receive $1,000 for use in his classroom. The four finalists will each receive $500 for use in their classrooms. These grants were made possible thanks to foundation sponsor CarSpec.
The District 112 Foundation is a nonprofit organization, separate from the school district, that advances
excellence and innovation within Eastern Carver County Schools. The Foundation provides supplemental
funds for innovative educational ideas, helps close achievement gaps, and supports teaching and learning
across all buildings and grade levels. Funds raised by the Foundation augment the school district
revenues provided by taxpayers, state aid, and other public funding sources. Visit
www.district112foundation.org or call 952-556-6299 for further information.