East social studies instructor named Rolfs Teacher of the Year
By Darick Fait, Current Staff
For the third time this year, Scott Mindel has proven to his fellow staff and students that he is a top-level educator, this time through a districtwide award.
Mindel, a social studies teacher at West Bend East High School, was given the Rolfs Teacher of the Year award May 4. Due to the safer-at-home order, Mindel received this award digitally for his hard work not only as an educator, but as a professional who takes his duties and responsibilities to new heights.
The award completes a remarkable year for Mindel. He spent months organizing November’s Veterans Day Assembly featuring a rare performance by the US Army Drill Team, and in February the Veterans of Foreign Wars named him the state’s top educator. He also served as the master of ceremonies at Monday’s livestreamed Memorial Day service in West Bend.
“From the Veterans Day Assembly, receiving the Veterans of Foreign Wars Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Award and now ending with the Rolfs Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year Award is quite something,” Mindel said.
The Rolfs award is given each year to teachers in the West Bend School District to honor the unique and exceptional ways in which they instruct students.
A huge part of why Mindel was awarded this honor comes from his activity in his school and community as a whole. This stems particularly from his continued attempts to honor local veterans as many ways as he can.
“My work with honoring WBHS veterans is included as part of the whole of my teaching and commitment to the WBHS community,” said Mindel, who has spent years producing an ongoing video project that honors veterans who were WBHS graduates or staff.
Like many past winners, Mindel received this award through a nomination by his colleagues and students.
“I had him freshman year for AP human geography and he was an absolutely amazing teacher because it was so evident how much he loved what he was teaching and how passionate he is about it,” East junior Emily Canales said. “He always went the extra mile and taught everything in an engaging way.”
The letter given to Mindel from the Rolfs Educational Foundation stated, “his professionalism is matched by his ability to build relationships with students and colleagues. Scott teaches students to be reverent, respectful, and grateful by holding them to high standards of rigor, expectations of behaviors and firm due dates.”
“He always inspires me to push myself.”
– Maren McDonnell, East sophomore
His work to build relationships is highly recognized among his students.
“Mr. Mindel always puts his students first,” East sophomore Maren McDonnell said. “He is always willing to help me, both last year when I was his student, and this year when I wasn’t. He always inspires me to push myself and to improve both in school and in sports.”
Another East sophomore, Drew Organ, describes Mindel as someone who always knew how to explain the concepts in such a way that students couldn’t help but learn the material.
The Rolfs Educational Foundation gives awards of $1,000 to teachers in four different categories: elementary school, middle school, high school, and special services.
When asked what he planned to do with his winnings, Mindel was quick to reply.
“It will probably go toward a trip to Hawaii to see Pearl Harbor,” Mindel said. “My wife and I were going to go this summer, but unfortunately, the virus changed those plans. We still plan to go, but only when it’s safe.”
Recent high school winners of this award include science teacher Richard Prost (2019) and Mindel’s social studies colleague Michael Lewandowski (2018).
When asked about what the award means to him, Mindel offered a deep and inspiring message.
“It’s been quite a year for me professionally,” Mindel said. “I am humbled and honored by the awards since they put me in some pretty prestigious company of educators. Despite how this school year has come to end, it is still very gratifying to feel recognized for over 27 years of work in the West Bend School District. I would hope that my impact on the West Bend High Schools and West Bend, in general, is more than just as a social studies teacher, coach and co-curricular advisor.”
(Photo courtesy of Scott Mindel.)