This year has taught me to expect the unexpected. I sat on the stage for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year ceremony on May 7th in awe of my my fellow nominees. I did not expect to be there. I was able to get to know the 10 other teachers that were finalists during the Teacher of the Year weekend. I felt very grateful to be included in such company. I was ready to congratulate the chosen educator and head on home to mow my lawn. Funny things happen though when you least expect them. The moment the 2016 Teacher of the Year, Abdul Wright said the words, “Mound Westonka,” I knew that I had once again learned that the unexpected is always possible.
People that know me well, know that I don’t react well to praise. I get squirmy and laugh it off. Here’s the truth though: I am very proud to be the Minnesota Teacher of the Year. I am proud because I have worked so hard with other committed educators to build something special at Mound Westonka High School. Let’s face it: Mound Westonka is an unexpected place. Walking around the building you might miss the creativity that is tucked into its strange hallways and its nooks and crannies. At any given time, students are composing amazing writing, mastering the trumpet, throwing exquisite pieces on the ceramics wheel, and working through elaborate math equations. A turn down any hallway can lead one to find the unexpected. Students are collaborating together on History projects, learning new business skills, speaking Chinese or Spanish, and tackling some of the 21st century’s toughest scientific problems. Those hallways are full of unexpected power.
People have asked me in the past month why I’ve stayed at the same school for so long. I always find this an unexpected question. The answer is simple: where else would I go? Mound Westonka is my home (in fact, there’s even been a sign up in the parking lot the last month reminding me that it’s my home, lest I forget). Teaching is a funny career because its success is not measured by the dollars you make, the number of corporations where you’ve hung your badge and your hat, nor the number of direct reports that call you “boss.” No, a successful teaching career is measured by the quality of your relationships, the number of students you help to get across the 12th grade finish line, and the size of the smiles you see on the faces that pass you on the way into the building. These are the unexpected but glorious benefits of teaching at Mound Westonka. The little things - the Monday morning weekend debriefs, the random questions we share, the quirky dress up days, and hallway hellos are what make my work life here complete. This is where the families I have known for years live, where my friends work, and where my beloved classroom exists. Again, where else would I go? Here is the place where I’ve come to expect the unexpected.
Yes, I have pretty special title right now. I am one of only 53 teachers chosen to represent the state as its Teacher of the Year. I know though that the fanfare will eventually die down, and then I’ll just go back to being regular old Mr. Bulman, English teacher at Mound Westonka High School. I am fine with this and I expect it. I’m fine with it because I care more about all the unexpected events that I will get to experience with my Westonka students and colleagues in the years to come, than I do about the title. These experiences will drive my life long after I hand this award off to the next teacher waiting to take over as the Minnesota Teacher of the Year.
I am proud to be an educator at Mound Westonka High School. I never expected to be Minnesota Teacher of the Year, but I am glad that it happened while working at this school. I will work hard this next year to make sure that people in this state know what to expect when a Westonka student comes their way. If they forget though, I know we’ll be fine because you’ll remind them. Your talents, creativity, and drive will let them know that it is always a great day to be a White Hawk.
|Mr. Corey Bulman|
|Students and staff welcoming home the 2017 Minnesota Teacher of the Year|
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