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Malo named Teacher of Year in Owatonna

Teacher of  year, Owatonna, Malo, 2022
Rick Bussler, Publisher

Andrew Malo is proud to be back teaching in the school district where he received his formal education.

His enthusiasm and energy as Spanish and world languages teacher at Owatonna Middle School hasn’t go unnoticed as his colleagues have chosen him as the Owatonna Teacher of the Year.

“As an Owatonna graduate, it is so fun and such an honor to be able to serve students in a community that has given me so much,” Malo said. “I am fortunate to have the most supportive principals and colleagues and love my students so very much.”

Malo, who has been serving in his current role since fall of 2017, said middle school wasn’t his initial plan as he wanted to teach in high school. However, now he couldn’t be happier with teaching middle school.

“I have the best time with middle schoolers and their sense of humor,” said Malo, who graduated from Owatonna in 2013. “They are hilarious and still at an age where they might be curious about life.”

Malo said he has always looked up to teachers and fell in love with teaching at a young age. He recalls wanting to be a teacher while growing up with his twin sister, Rachel. “We used to play school together and grade blank sheets of paper,” he said.

Rachel Malo also went on to become an educator and now teaches third grade at Lincoln Elementary School in Owatonna.

Asked about any potential rivalry between him and Rachel since he won the honor, Andrew Malo said: “We’re truly the yin and yang and best friends. We have this weird twin telepathy going on. She was super stoked for me.”

Andrew Malo said he sees nearly every seventh grader by teaching a class on exploring world languages, which touches on French, Spanish and German. He also teaches Spanish as an elective class for eighth graders.

“We have a good time, and I enjoy the process of learning,” Malo said, adding the room is often on fire with students eager to learn different languages.

Besides his classroom work, Malo is the OMS Student Council advisor, C-squad volleyball coach and Husky Pride Committee. He also teaches Migrant Summer School.

Prior to coming back to Owatonna, Malo earned his bachelor of arts degree in Spanish at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter and his master of science in teaching and learning at Southwest State University. He student taught in Medford and Sotogrande, Spain. He had two internships while living abroad and teaching English in Chimbote, Peru and Riobamba, Ecuador.

Malo, who was honored at the Owatonna Education Association (OEA) banquet on May 11, was one of six finalists for the top honor. Others included: Heather Bae, Lauren Gendron, Emily Leckner, Abby Olson and Kristi Rohman.

He laughed about how he escaped giving a speech in front of his colleagues as the banquet was cut short because of a severe thunderstorm. “I’m much more comfortable getting in front of students and talking than adults,” he said.

OEA has more than 350 members who nominate and vote annually for the Teacher of the Year. Malo will be competing for the top state honor next year.

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