U of M honors Hmong PTO founder for teaching excellence


Ann Hebble, an English as a Second Language teacher at Murray Junior High School in St. Paul, received the 2006 Impact Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development at a reception held recently.

The college’s Council on Teacher Education created the Impact Award in 2003 to annually recognize educators who, through their teaching, have exerted a profound influence on the lives of students. The award includes $1,000 for each recipient.

Hebble, a 12-year teaching veteran, founded the first Hmong Parent Teacher Organization in St. Paul Public Schools and also initiated Murray’s Hmong Girl Scouts pilot program. She has received four other teaching awards, including one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as an award from the Minnesota School Counselors Association.

“Aside from being completely flabbergasted, I am so pleased that this award was given to a teacher of ESL students because typically ESL programs and students are under-represented in this kind of recognition,” Hebble said. “I believe the award recognizes the achievements of ESL students and their families and that’s what makes me most happy about receiving this award.”

“Ms. Hebble has had a direct and profound impact on the lives of the students she serves as a teacher, mentor and advocate to some of the most needy students and families as the founder of our current English Language Learners instructional program and our Hmong PTO,” said Murray’s principal, Winston Tucker.

One of her former students, now in college, wrote that when she was in Hebble’s seventh-grade ESL class, “I learned I was not alone in this journey,’ she said. “There were other students from different countries who were in the same position as I. In Ms. Hebble’s class I felt comfortable and free to speak and ask questions because nobody in the class would laugh at me, she wouldn’t allow that.”

An eighth-grade student who was in Hebble’s class last year wrote: “Ms. Hebble is a teacher that will never give up on her students. She is the first teacher I ever met that will take the time to explain, show her students every step of how to write an essay, for example. Many students from last year and this year [were promoted] out of ELL because we learned a lot of things from Ms. Hebble. And many juniors and seniors or even some college students come to Murray Junior High to visit Ms. Hebble and bring her presents. This is a way of saying thank you to her.”

“The unique aspect of the award is that students must be involved in the nomination process,” College of Education and Human Development Steven Yussen said of the Impact Award. “The purpose was to create awards that essentially come from families—those whose lives and learning have been impacted by teaching excellence and a supportive learning environment.”

Hebble, who received her undergraduate degree and master of education degree at the University of Minnesota, is also the co-author of an academic case study that examines the unique curriculum she created for her Murray ESL classes. The case study forms a chapter in the book, Content-Based Instruction in Primary and Secondary School Settings, published in 2005.

One of her co-authors, Susan Ranney, an instructor in the college’s second languages and cultures education program, wrote that Hebble “is a truly gifted teacher who exudes passion for the profession and for her students, and has a love of learning that sustains her and keeps her fresh. Her innovative approach to teaching is a model which leads the way in the second language teaching profession. Her students are blessed to have a teacher who cares so deeply for them and for their learning.”