Mary Jo Merrick-Lockett, an American history and honors teacher at Anoka High School (AHS), was named the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies (MCSS) high school “Teacher of the Year.” She received the award at the organization’s annual meeting March 4 in St. Cloud.
MCSS awards chairperson Jessica Ellison said the elementary, middle and high school honorees were chosen based on recognition of excellence by their colleagues, use of social studies materials that foster inquiry and development of social studies skills and demonstration of an ongoing interest in improving their instruction.
“Mary Jo Merrick-Lockett clearly demonstrated all these attributes,” Ellison said. “Her colleagues emphasized the excellence of her teaching and her positive influence on students and fellow teachers. Her lessons show a commitment to making her classroom an active learning environment, where students expand their critical-thinking skills through the National History Day program, encounter history in their community with regular field trips to historic sites and participate in lessons that improve their understanding of American Indians, immigrants and their own family history.”
Merrick-Lockett said just being nominated for the award was an honor.
“I was nominated by a student teacher, Katie Johnson,” Merrick-Lockett said.
She worked with the St. Cloud State University student during the first trimester. “It was an honor that she felt that positive about me mentoring her,” Merrick-Lockett said.
Receiving the award was a real affirmation for the 35-year Anoka-Hennepin School District employee.
“There’s only been about four days in my life where I didn’t feel like going into work, I feel blessed,” said Merrick-Lockett, who has taught 33 of her 35 years at AHS. “The award felt like a real affirmation about what I do with history and with students. It felt really good.”
Merrick-Lockett enjoys many aspects of teaching. From collaborating with colleagues to inspiring teenagers, she likes to make a difference. While friends who do not work in teaching are at the end of their careers feeling they haven’t made a difference, she does.
“I feel like I have impacted and guided students,” Merrick-Lockett said. “That is a great satisfaction.”