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Koller receives teaching award

WORTHINGTON -- When John Koller was introduced Monday afternoon to his fellow teachers upon receiving the 2006 District 518 Teacher of the Year award, he was described as intense and passionate.

Guilty, Koller agreed later.

"I try to deliver in my classroom pretty much like my life depends on it," he remarked to his fellow Worthington High School instructors. "It's really nothing more than I want the kids to get it."

Koller, 40, teaches advanced algebra, integrated math and grad math at WHS, where he has worked for the last eight years. He taught for 10 years previously at Round Lake.

A LeSueur High School graduate, Koller went on to matriculate at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, and he received his Masters degree at St. Mary's University in Minneapolis. John and his wife, Tammy, have two children, Rachel, 7, and Adam, 4. His hobbies include golf, fishing and hunting.

Koller's reputation as a passionate teacher extends back to his Round Lake days, when once, during a pep rally, he dressed up as M.C. Hammer and rapped, "You Can't Touch This."

This is his second Teacher of the Year award. He was named the top teacher at Round Lake about nine years ago.

"People just recognize that I have a desire to help kids. I try to do that with a lot of energy and passion, and I try to make math come alive," Koller said.

Koller has written two math books to help students prepare for state tests. Using analogies and other techniques, he tries to show students that mathematics can benefit them in their daily lives.

"I want them to do as much math as possible in their heads. ... You just try your hardest to have them feel about the subject as you feel about the subject," he explained of his overriding philosophy. "Sometimes I come to work, and I'm tired. Then the energy of delivering that message gets me invigorated."

Upon receiving his plaque, Koller said he was humbled to be recognized among so many outstanding District 518 teachers.

"I'm just one teacher of many who could be standing up here," he said. "We're lucky to have this district and the committed people we have in this district."

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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