Passionate, emotional science educator named Fargo Teacher of the Year
FARGO — Before a raucous crowd of cheering and excited students, Ben Franklin Middle School sixth-grade science and English teacher and coach Travis Hoeg was named the Fargo Public School's "Teacher of the Year" on Thursday, May 2.
The self-admitted "passionate, super emotional" teacher told the packed gym of students and teachers that the northside school was the "greatest school to teach at" with "super special students."
The veteran of 24 years in teaching urged "the north-siders" to keep it going.
Superintendent Rupak Gandhi made the surprise announcement at the afternoon assembly and said that Hoeg was nominated by students, colleagues, administrators and parents for the honor. He called Hoeg one of the most "passionate and dedicated teachers you'll find."
He was described in his nominations as a role model, team player, an effective and enthusiastic teacher and a dependable colleague.
Hoeg was greeted with hugs and handshakes by his mother and father from Fargo, his three brothers, his wife Alison, his three boys and friends and students after the award was presented. His wife is also a sixth-grade teacher at the school.
He said in an interview after the awards ceremony that he was "in utter shock" when his name was called, although he said it finally sunk in when his family came walking into the gym.
Hoeg said he simply loves coming to work every day. "I love what I do. I love the kids. It's a passion and it's always been a passion," he said.
He said he's had chances to move into administration as he has a master's degree in educational leadership, but said he just wants to stay in the classroom with the students.
"(They) are the reason I come to work every day. They are what makes this job special," he told the students just the other day.
Hoeg said there are negative news reports about students, but that "it's really a small percentage with so many other good things going on in education."
The approach that works for him in the classroom, Hoeg said, is establishing relationships with his students.
"If you can establish really good relationships — no matter what you are teaching — they are going to want to come into your classroom and learn from you because of the relationship you made with them. They make our day, every day," he said.
"A lot of people think that I'm crazy because I want to teach at middle school because a lot of strange things happen here. But to me it's the energy and passion of the kids every day that make me want to come here," Hoeg said.
Hoeg also gets to know the students out of the classroom as he teaches middle school girls and boys basketball, volleyball and track.
The Bismarck Century High School and Valley City State University graduate started his teaching career as a long-term substitute at Agassiz Junior High in the 1995-96 school year. After 12 years at Agassiz, he moved to the northside Ben Franklin school in 2006, where he has also been for 12 years.
And Ben Franklin is where he plans to stay.
"I don't want to leave this building. I want to keep teaching these northside kids," he said when asked about his future plans.
Hoeg may end up being more than Teacher of the Year in Fargo. His name will be forwarded to the North Dakota Department of Instruction as a candidate for the state Teacher of the Year. The recipient of that award will be announced this fall.
Fargo schools have been giving the award since 1957.