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He shoots, he scores! Grand Meadow science teacher honored by Minnesota Wild

Jan. 23—Michael Keefe is a teacher and he's a hockey fan and because of his passion for both subjects, the Grand Meadow science teacher has been recognized by the Minnesota Wild.

Keefe, who has been with the Grand Meadow Public School District for 18 years, was recently named the Wild's Teacher of the Month through the team's Future Goals initiative.

"It's connecting school to hockey basically," Keefe said. "What they are trying to do is encourage science and math and how sports can actually incorporate those things."

As part of the recognition, Keefe received a congratulations letter and a complementary jersey with his name on it.

But for Keefe, one of the highlights of the award is being able to students through a sport he loves.

"I really like this program because it allows kids to learn more about the sport of hockey and hockey is one of those sports you really have to understand to appreciate," Keefe said. "You have to get the basics of the rules, the basics of the strategy before you can appreciate the skill level."

"The program is a really nice way to segue into that and it's just a fun way to almost trick kids into learning because they find it interesting and they ask questions," he continued. "That just leads into a nice discussion of all the science concepts you can incorporate when you talk sports."

Keefe has been a hockey fan his whole life, taking to pond hockey when he was growing up in the Chicago area.

An instructor of anatomy, biology, chemistry and physics at Grand Meadow, Keefe said he was drawn to teaching science because of an interest in learning more about the world around him.

"Then I really got passionate about trying to get that into others and went into education for that reason," he said.

Taking advantage of in-state tuition, Keefe attended Winona State University before embarking on his first three years as a teacher in one of the most unique places in the world — an island in the Bering Sea teaching members of the local eskimo community

"What brought me to Alaska was they offered me a free airline ticket and said come for an adventure," Keefe said. "It was incredible. I could see beluga whales outside of my bedroom window and musk ox out by bedroom window."

The average number of graduates each year was around three, but there was sporting opportunities through youth Olympics and basketball that would see the team jumping on a plane for road games.

"The half court was about the three-point line," Keefe recalled.

After three years, Keefe decided it was time to return to Minnesota and landed in Grand Meadow because of both the town and the school.

"You get to know people. You get to teach people two years in a row. You get to interact a lot more," he said. "I've just really liked the community. I've really gotten engaged. I've done ambulance for the last 16 years and now that I have my own two daughters, it's a great place to raise a family."

During his time in Grand Meadow, Keefe has been able to turn to hockey and skating as a way to teach various science fundamentals. More recently, this included taking members of the sophomore class skating.

"Not only is it just the book science side of it or the learning side of it, but the engagement was super fun," Keefe said. "To watch those kids go from novice, to say the least, to actually enjoying and appreciating the game of hockey was fun."

Keefe said this recent recognition by the Wild was fun, but there was also a reconnection component.

"For me, it's been really cool to be recognized at a state level," he said. "But even more fun for me was connecting with former students through this. I've had a lot of former students and parents reach back out to me, which has been really rewarding for me."