Though the student population at Deer River High School is relatively small, it was no less challenging to reach students academically-until teacher Karen Teff came along. In five years she increased the number of students passing the basic math skills test from 58 percent to 89 percent, well above the state average. Ms. Teff has also improved achievement substantially among Native American students, who account for more than a third of Deer River's student population. She has achieved this improvement by developing an instructional program that builds both academic knowledge and social skills, using hands-on activities to help students grasp difficult math concepts. Ms. Teff is also generous with her time, offering after-school help to struggling students. Because of her influence, more students are now enrolling in higher-level math classes, and many have openly attributed their improved attendance, interest level and academic success to her efforts. Throughout the Deer River campus, Ms. Teff proudly displays the model homes and bridges that students have built in her classes to learn math concepts, a testament not only to student learning but to the teacher who has helped it grow. Since the award, Karen Teff became Nationally Board Certified in Early Adolescence Mathematics. She also served on the MN Mathematics Standards Revision Committee, edited a cultural Ojibwe Mathematics textbook, and wrote 3 online courses for Infinity. She currently teaches online and at Itasca Community College, in addition to teaching at Deer River High School. Karen also mentors future math teachers and serves as a key note speaker in the education classes at the college in her community.
2007 National Board Certification