Minnesota West Community & Technical College has announced that Heidi Tarus, a biology and natural science instructor, has been selected as this year's Outstanding Educator nominee for Minnesota West.
In recognition of her significant contributions to education and her commitment to advancing teaching excellence, Tarus will represent Minnesota West as a candidate for the Minnesota State Board of Trustees Educator of the Year award.
Outstanding educators are faculty identified at a Minnesota State college or university who are exemplary educators, identified through a local committee process, and nominated by their college provost or president for selection as a candidate for Educator of the Year.
The nomination process took place in September, with calls for nominations extended to staff and faculty, based on the award guidelines. Following the nomination phase, the college deans developed the formal nominations, and a college-wide committee subsequently reviewed the decision. On Nov. 1, Provost Arthur Brown officially submitted the nominee.
Throughout November, the Minnesota State committee will thoroughly review the nominees; in December, the Board of Trustees is expected to approve the recommendations. The final award winners will be officially announced in January 2024. A grand awards luncheon event, set to take place in St. Paul in mid-April 2024, will mark the presentation of awards to all Outstanding Educators and Educators of the Year.
According to the Minnesota West announcement, one of Tarus's most notable achievements has been the formation of large-scale science opportunities for Minnesota West students, including the international NASA-supported "Plant the Moon" challenge. This hands-on project has earned her students international recognition, including the prestigious Best in Show award. Tarus has led her classes in a global science experiment focused on growing plants in conditions similar to those found on the moon.
Tarus is also dedicated to supporting students, serving on committees and advancing accreditation efforts, including promoting zero-cost associate degree pathways through OER.
Tarus continuously enhances her professional skills and actively engages in community outreach by organizing educational events for local organizations. Her involvement in educational associations, presentations on culturally responsive teaching, and plans for a book club on college teaching demonstrate her commitment to advancing education, inclusivity and student success.