SAUK RAPIDS -- A middle school teacher in the Sauk Rapids-Rice school district is a candidate for this year's "Minnesota Teach of the Year".

Ashlee Johnson is one of the 134 candidates that have been announced by Education Minnesota. Johnson is in her 9th year with the district and is a 6th-grade language arts teacher.

Melissa Hammer from the Royalton Public Schools is also one of this year's candidates.

Eligible candidates include pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, Early Childhood Family Education, and Adult Basic Education teachers, from public or private schools.

Over the coming weeks, a 25-member panel will name a group of semifinalists and finalists. The Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be announced on Sunday, May 3rd at the St. Paul RiverCentre.

This year's program will be the 56th Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

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