Joe Leggio and Jeff Offutt have been chosen as the 2020-21 Moorhead Teachers of the Year by Education Moorhead.
Leggio is a special education teacher at Robert Asp Elementary School. He joined Moorhead Area Public Schools in 2016 and has taught for 26 years. Offutt is a social studies teacher at Horizon East Middle School. He joined Moorhead Area Public Schools in 2000 and has taught for 24 years.
Joe Leggio believes in helping his students through personalized education plans and teamwork. He is humble and quick to acknowledge his teammates that help his students thrive. “He is a true example of what a teacher should be,” says Nicole Groves occupational therapist at Robert Asp Elementary. “The amount of time and effort he puts forth for each and every student is outstanding.”
Leggio’s passion for helping students means extra hours brainstorming, researching and planning. “When Joe encountered a student who was not making adequate progress in reading, he decided to search for a new strategy,” says Tammy Ressler, special education teacher at Robert Asp Elementary. “He took it upon himself to pilot an instructional approach that is used to help students who struggle with reading, spelling and writing. He spent countless hours in training in order to help this student and many others with similar needs and was met with great success.”
Leggio is also known to go above and beyond to form strong relationships with families. “Early in my career, parents and guardians rightfully hung up on me or did not answer because I would only call when I had concerns,” Leggio remembers. “Now I build partnerships with parents and guardians so that we can celebrate their child’s progress and work together so their children can reach individual academic and behavioral goals.”
Sophie Lien, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, describes Leggio as the definition of selfless. “No matter the situation, he is always putting everyone's needs before his own, especially his students,” she says.
Jeff Offutt believes in connecting with his students to help develop a deeper understanding of curriculum. “As a teacher I work to help my students see the connections between themselves and what we are learning,” he says.
Offutt is a level-headed and knowledgeable teacher. He is an advocate for his students. “There is no denying kids respect and enjoy Mr. Offutt as a teacher,” says Linsey Holten, teacher at Horizon Middle School East.
Offutt creates a safe environment for students to express themselves. “His rapport with kids, particularly those who are experiencing challenges in ‘doing school’ seems to be natural and instinctive, but I also think that’s only because Mr. Offutt puts thoughtful effort into considering their perspective,” says Karen Taylor, language arts teacher at Horizon Middle School East.
Offutt’s coworkers also praise his welcoming demeanor and advocacy work. “Jeff was a part of the first team I worked with when I started full time at Horizon,” says Deanna Monson, math teacher. “He made my first year in a new building welcoming and never made me feel like I was the ‘new person.’
“He is a strong and steady fighter for all of us in terms of teachers' rights, leading our union when it wasn’t easy and continuing to fight for what is in the best interests of our students,” says Kelly DuBois-Gerchak, theatre arts teacher at Horizon Middle School.
Leggio and Offutt were first nominated as their building representative, before being announced as Teachers of the Year. See below for the other building level nominees.
- Jen Nelson - Dorothy Dodds Elementary
- Maggie Ellingson - Ellen Hopkins Elementary
- Jenny West - Reinertsen Elementary
- Deb Bartholomay - Horizon West Middle School
- Allie Bondy - Moorhead High School
- Brooke White - Probstfield Elementary
- Jon-Erik Virnala - West Central Academy/ALC/Vista Building
Congratulations to each of these educators of distinction. Moorhead Area Public Schools is proud of their career accomplishments.