Meet the Filipino-American Who Became Her State's Teacher of the Year

She's the first Asian/Pacific Islander educator to receive the distinction.

Another win for us Filipinos back home, as a Filipino-American elementary school teacher just made history for becoming the first Minnesota Teacher of the Year to be of Asian/Pacific Islander descent.

Based in the small town of Onamia, Sarah Lancaster was born to a Filipino immigrant mother and an American father. She's the first teacher of color in her district and the first from her small town to receive the honor when she was awarded at the Saint Paul RiverCentre at St. Cloud this month.

Lancaster was chosen by an independent selection committee out of a pool of 77 teachers in the Minnesota area.

In an interview with KARE 11, she was grateful to finally have a platform to speak for her small community, which roughly only has about 850 people.

"I think in the last few years, especially with the pandemic, communities have been divided and it's tough because this is a partnership and it won't survive without the collaboration of teachers and parents and students," she quipped.

Lancaster graduated from St. Cloud State University and obtained her master's degree in curriculum and instruction and design at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

Nine years after graduating college, she returned to her hometown of Onamia, and has been heavily involved in the athletics and arts programs in the area, as well as at her local church and more. She is currently the President of the Onamia Area Civic Association, too.

"If you find me on any given day, I'm coaching, I'm directing a musical, I'm at a meeting at City Hall, I'm at the school teaching," she expressed. "My students see me in all different capacities and that's how I want them to see themselves."


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Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is a Filipino cultural critic, editor, and essayist. He writes about art, books, travel, people, current events, and all the magic in between. His past work in film and media can be found on PeopleAsia Magazine, The Philippine Star, MANILA BULLETIN, and IMDB.
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