Education Minnesota (EM) — the state’s teachers union — presented the Peterson-Shaubach Outstanding Leadership Award to Education Minnesota-Lakeville President Don Sinner for his firm commitment to learners and the community; to Education Minnesota members, the organization and the profession; to equity and social justice; and to public education and the labor movement.
Sinner received the award April 21 during the 2017 Education Minnesota Representative Convention. He has been an EM-Lakeville officer for the past 15 years: two years as secretary, two years as vice president, and the past 11 years as president. It is his 33rd year in education, and his 31st year in Lakeville.
“As Education Minnesota Vice President Paul Mueller often says, ‘We stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us,” and in my case it is very true,’ Sinner said. “As a student, I had classes under two former EM-Lakeville presidents, and I student taught under the District 196 president at the time. I was fortunate enough to work with, learn from, and consider my friends, four former winners of this award. Hopefully, I have been able to take what I learned from those before me, add a little, and pay it forward to those who will follow.”
Sinner’s dedication to public education as a vital institution in the fight for equity and social justice for all in society has driven his choices — from his involvement in first the classroom, then as a union leader. His firm commitment to the principle, “all of us together are smarter, and more powerful, that any one of us alone,” has led him to serve as a voice for educators and the profession in their service of students, families, and the community, according to Sinner’s nomination letter, which was written by EM’s Governing Board members Robin Courrier and Richard Rosivach. Sinner often gets out of his office on a moment’s notice to visit a member with an issue or concern face-to-face. And, in his role as an Intermediate Organization leader, Education Minnesota Governing Board member and National Education Association (NEA) Director, he has consistently demonstrated the value of visiting all corners of the state at many events in order to the voices, concerns, suggestions, and input of members, his nomination letter said.
On the local level, he is always looking to identify the next generation of potential leaders and engaging members in the work of the profession as well as mentoring anyone who shows an interest in the work. At the state level, he has served on a number of committees and task forces, according to his nomination letter.
“He consistently makes every effort to engage every member with which he serves, bringing out their opinions and voices. When asked to fill a role, he never refuses, and is always willing to serve in any role that leadership feels he is needed for,” Courrier wrote.