Creating a Lasting Impact

Retiring teachers leave a legacy of promoting positive change.
Students give Michael Seaman a send off at his retirement party.

Edina’s Highlands Elementary School said farewell to three influential educators who retired this spring. Judy Scanlon, Katie Oberle and Michael Seaman have shared their passions in the classroom, ranging from helping reduce world hunger to creativity and design to work-flow efficiency.

Seaman, who was Highlands’ Continuous Progress Program educator for 23 years, is an Edina Chamber of Commerce teacher of the year, and for good reason.

Highlands parent Cheryl Dulas commends Seaman for “instilling in my children a love of learning.” She believes Seaman “teaches from the heart. He builds relationships, motivates his students to find their sparks, and nurtures them to develop their full potential.”

An essential component of teaching strategies at Highlands is fostering the belief in students that they are capable of positive change. A memorable social justice project for Seaman was Soap 4 Hope, which “came about from two kids arguing about a 75-cent eraser,” he recalls. Seaman had just read an article reporting the number of people dying from cholera following the 2010 Haitian earthquake. He told his students how cholera sufferers could be saved with a 75-cent bar of soap, and the class began marketing projects to raise money and awareness to help.

“I tell kids, ‘You never know how much influence you’re going to have—it’s a ripple effect.’ But they have to know that they need to do something, or nothing can change.”