Minnesota’s 2018 Teacher of the Year was one of two educators who chose to boycott a visit with President Donald Trump, VP Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday.
The winners of national and state teachers of the year awards were invited to a ceremony in the Oval Office on Monday, but Shakopee’s Kelly Holstine wasn’t among them.
Speaking at a press conference alongside Kentucky’s Teacher of the Year, Jessica Dueñas, Holstine said she decided to skip the ceremony to protest policies that have harmed her immigrant, refugee and LGBTQ students.
Per the Southwest Journal, Holstine said she respects the office of the president and said that Trump and Pence “matter as human beings,” and admitted she had sleepless nights thinking about whether to attend or not.
But she cited the challenges some of her immigrant and LGBTQ students have faced, and said: “I want to model for students that they get to choose if something makes them uncomfortable.”
Holstine, the first openly LGBTQ Minnesota Teacher of the Year, told Education Week: “I feel that the policies of this administration, and the homophobia and the transphobia and the demonizing of the LGBTQ people, is so damaging and hurtful. And it creates an environment where other folks feel emboldened to also feel that hatred.”
Holstine has taught English at the Tokata Learning Center since 2012. The Tokata is an alternative high school, offering a different experience for Grade 9-12 students, with smaller class sizes and extended lesson times to enable “more in-depth learning and teacher contact.”