By Kim Johnson

MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — We know many teachers work long days and spend their nights and weekends creating curriculum to inspire and challenge students. That is certainly a fitting description of Sam Neisen at Minnetonka High School.

Neisen has only been teaching a few years, but a colleague tells us he’s one of the most gifted teachers in the school. The way he connects with kids so they know he cares about them makes Mr. Neisen an Excellent Educator.

If the saying goes education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire, Sam Neisen is creating a lot of sparks at Minnetonka High School.

sam neisen 2 Minnetonka Teacher Connects With Students Through Vinyl Club

(credit: CBS)

“Teaching history and geography is awesome because we get to think about the world, it’s not just something on a test or a fact, it’s thinking, ‘How do you analyze,’ ‘How do you remember,’ ‘What do you think about,'” he said. “I love that.”

His class is fun, he plays music and hands out candy to keep students engaged.

“We have a fun time, I’m really glad I get to work with these kids,” he said.

Working with kids doesn’t end once the bell rings.  Neisen created a vinyl club where students come together, share music and make new friends.

“We listen to vinyl records that the kids bring in and eat candy and listen to music, it’s just kind of a nice place for people to get together in a low stakes environment,” said Neisen.

While he may have created Vinyl Club, a group of students sought him out to advise another, called Difference for Women.

mr neisen a difference for women Minnetonka Teacher Connects With Students Through Vinyl Club

(credit: Minnetonka Public Schools)

“They want to try to further empower women throughout the globe raising money and education and solidarity,” he said. “The students do a great job with it, I’m more of the advisor.”

His students look up to him and he’s proud to be a role model in and outside of the class.

“I think just being a voice and having an open mind and having an understanding that we’re all in this together and we can work together and understanding our differences,” he said.

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