2019 Teacher of the Year:

Kelly Holstine

Tokata Learning Center
Subject Area
English Language Arts
Grade Level
9, 10, 11, 12
More about Kelly Holstine

Kelly Holstine teaches English at Tokata Learning Center in Shakopee, Minnesota, and has over 25 years of experience working with youth. She helped to design and open her school in 2012. Holstine has worked and volunteered in the fields of education, media, team building, social services, animal rescue, and theatre. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Massachusetts, a Communication Arts and Literature teaching license, and a Master of Arts in Education from Augsburg University.

Holstine was named the Minnesota State Teacher of the Year in 2018.  She is the first GLBTQ teacher and the second alternative educator to be given this honor. Her personal journey of being a gender non-conforming, lesbian teacher, among other life experiences, has helped her to be an advocate for at-risk students. Her mantra is: Every Heart Matters. 

She is a supporter of compassionate accountability, curiosity over judgment, courageous connections, restorative practices, experiential education, dynamic containers, and the power of vulnerability. She is passionate about equity and steadfastly works to eliminate the opportunity gap.

Holstine has created a personalized, blended, voice and choice, self-paced teaching model that is dynamic and collaborative. Students see themselves in the culturally diverse and rigorous curriculum that they help create. Social emotional support is an integral part of her curriculum and she encourages educators to work on their own mental health in order to be healthier humans for themselves and for their students.

Holstine lives in St. Paul with her wife and their rescue pets. 

National Teacher of the Year Sponsors

A special thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors who help make the NTOY program possible. If you are interested in supporting the program, click here to learn more.

Program Partners