Celebrating cooperating teachers

Event honors UMD’s student teacher mentors

The University of Minnesota Duluth’s Department of Education held an inaugural event to celebrate the area teachers who serve as mentors to its students.

Eric Torres, associate professor and department head, believes that a strong collaboration with local schools is important for the development of future teachers. Since he arrived at UMD in 2021, Torres has been working to “nurture a collaborative partnership” with the local school district. 

According to Torres, the hands-on experience teacher candidates get in the classroom is instrumental in shaping their future careers. “What our cooperating teachers do is important and we cannot do it without them,” he explains. 

Torres says the partnership also benefits cooperating teachers. “Through teacher candidates, they’re connected to the latest developments and trends in education.” 

CEHSP Dean along with three cooperating teachers and Dept Head Eric Torres
Dean Jill Pinkney Pastrana; Aryn Bergsven, more than 20 years of service; Jennifer Luomala, more than 10 years of service; Deb Hannu, more than 20 years of service; Department Head Eric Torres

Teachers who have served as mentors for UMD students over the course of 5, 10, 15 and 20 years were recognized at the “Celebrating our Cooperating Teachers” event at the Chester Park Building on campus on December 1.

As a way of encouraging this symbiotic relationship, the department plans to hold an annual event to acknowledge the more than 150 teachers in the region who have been serving as cooperating teachers. 

Many of the cooperating teachers are UMD alumni. Torres says events like this are important because they provide a chance to highlight milestones, network and build community.

About the Department of Education 

Pictured in the photo at top: 

Back Row (L to R): Connie Toscano, Susan Janchar-Baker, Erin Pepelnjak, Aryn Bergsven, Jaclynn Olson, Kay Wohlhuter, Shelley Michalicek, Jill Pinkney Pastrana, Eddie Crawford, Vickie Almquist Minko

Front Row (L to R): Jane Carlson, Jennifer Luomala, Gabriel Theis, Deb Hannu, Donna Martin, Eric Torres