Home Minnesota Educator New London-Spicer educator Tracy Detloff wins Education Minnesota’s Peterson-Schaubach Leadership Award

New London-Spicer educator Tracy Detloff wins Education Minnesota’s Peterson-Schaubach Leadership Award

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Minnesota currently ranks fifth in the nation for student loan debt, with an average debt load of $30,894 for state college students. While there are programs available for educators to receive debt relief, the ever-changing requirements have historically been difficult to navigate.

After seeing a union brochure at her school about loan forgiveness programs, New London-Spicer special education teacher Tracy Detloff began the intense process of navigating the programs. After a few tries, she was approved and her student debt was forgiven. She then realized that there were others in her district who may not know that they could benefit from the program.

She began leading workshops to present information about the loan forgiveness process to other members of her local and in Central Lakes. “An Education Minnesota staff person called me and asked me what I knew about these programs,” said Detloff. “They came to my work, and I gave them all the information on the different types of loan forgiveness for teachers in Minnesota. From there, Education Minnesota went on to create Degrees, Not Debt.” This national recognized program is one of Education Minnesota’s most popular programs and has helped many members receive student debt relief.

Detloff characterizes her leadership style as focusing on support and empowerment. “I think a good leader is a supporter of everybody,” Detloff said. “I used to always do things for people but now I realize somebody who is a good leader will show you how to do it for yourself.”

Detloff’s coworkers describe her as a passionate, caring leader with the ability to bring people together. “Tracy has a very positive leadership style,” said Chad Schmiesling, a math teacher at New London-Spicer High School. “She’s very helpful and she communicates very well. She’s passionate about the union…naturally, people gravitate towards that.”

Kelly Johnson, KCEO facilitator for New London-Spicer Schools, agreed. “When she serves the staff here, the larger region of the CLU, and the broader membership of Education Minnesota, she serves with her heart,” Johnson said.

Because of her leadership on student loan debt relief, along with her leadership in Central Lakes United and in her local, Detloff received the 2024 Education Minnesota Peterson-Schaubach Leadership Award, which recognizes leaders for outstanding contributions to our organization, its locals and the core purpose of our union.

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