From MPR’s Tom Weber….
Katy Smith, the Winona educator who was named 2011 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, asked Gov. Mark Dayton to lunch on Thursday – in front of thousands of teachers. Dayton immediately accepted.
Dayton was late to arrive at the Education Minnesota Professional Conference (often called “MEA”) in St. Paul this afternoon. Smith originally joked she should get his speaking time, but when she learned he had arrived, Smith excitedly welcomed Dayton to stage. After beckoning him to stand next to her at the podium, Smith noted she had prepared two speeches: One to give to the teachers, the other she would give if the governor was the only person in attendance.
“I just want to give you my back-up speech that if I had 45 minutes, I would have delivered to you,” Smith told the governor. “It’s full of accolades for you, from teachers, but it also invites you to have lunch with me so that you and I could talk about early childhood programming.”
That sparked a loud applause, after which Dayton appeared to have no choice. “I’m delighted to accept,” he said, joking he should hire her as his legislative liaison because she would surely put the Legislature on the spot.
Education Minnesota president Tom Dooher later noted that Dayton was the first sitting governor to appear at the annual conference since Education Minnesota was formed from in the 1997 merger of the Minnesota Education Association (MEA) and the Minnesota Federation of Teachers (MFT). Smith, who teaches at Goodview School in the Winona district, is the first pre-kindergarten teacher to win Teacher of the Year in the award’s 47 year history.