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6/5/2014 12:35 P.M. ET

Minnesota finalists announced for MLB, Target and Time Inc.'s 'PEOPLE' "All-Star Teachers" program to honor teachers

Vote now to honor a teacher at AllStarTeachers.com through June 29th; Minnesota Twins winner to be recognized at the pregame ceremony of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game on July 15th on FOX

Major League Baseball, Target Corp (NYSE: TGT) and PEOPLE today announced the 90 finalists in the "Target Presents PEOPLE All-Star Teachers" campaign, which celebrates remarkable current and retired teachers who make an impact on the lives of their students and communities. The three finalists for the Minnesota Twins include Mike Sommerness of Pequot Lakes, MN; Neil Johnson of Shakopee, MN; and Cindy Britain of Minneapolis, MN. Fans are encouraged to visit AllStarTeachers.com to vote on their favorite stories through June 29th

One winner from each of the 30 MLB Clubs will be included in All-Star Week activities and recognized during the pre-game ceremony of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game on FOX. An "All-Star Teacher" winner will be featured in 'PEOPLE' during the week of the MLB All-Star Game.

Mike Sommerness is a great inspiration to his students. The band and music teacher often takes time out of his day for students. He encourages them to do bigger and better things, but with a piece of advice: make sure you love it. When Mike came to Pequot Lakes High School, the band had been through three teachers in four years. Mike has now been there for 10 years and is a favorite teacher. He organizes band trips every four years, guaranteeing students a chance to experience the wider world of music. He works with the VFW and other organizations to get opportunities for the band to share their music with their neighbors. This 2013 local Teacher of the Year award winner is so beloved by his students that they've given him gifts, like autographed Chuck Taylors and a Major League gift card to help him get to Twins games. Mike's dedication to his students and creative teaching techniques make music fun and accessible. He makes it cool to be in band!

With nearly four decades of teaching experience, high school calculus teacher and Minnesota Twins fan Neil Johnson is devoted to both math and sports. In fact, he continues to hold the title of Shakopee's only softball coach and has coached softball longer than any other coach in the state. He has also served as the math department chairman for 20 years, and in 2008, he started a pilot program that allowed calculus students to receive college credit from the University of Minnesota. Beyond the classroom, Neil was instrumental in building a softball complex, organizing community groups to help build fields, press boxes, dugouts and bleachers. He also created both the Shakopee Girls Basketball Association and Girls Softball Association. On and off the field, this teacher supports his students as well as his coworkers, often acting as a mentor to new math teachers. That's why it's no wonder that his students describe him as "the best math teacher I have ever had."

After graduating from Union College with a bachelor's in education, Cindy Britain's career brought her to the Twin Cities, where she resides with her husband and two daughters. She has spent the last 16 years at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis, the only one with an accredited school. Families come from all over the world so that their children can receive treatment for illnesses that are sometimes terminal. Those kids often have siblings who need to stay in school. Cindy's caring teaching style benefits the children and their families who stay at the house. Her special gift is connecting with each student and her compassion shines in each relationship. Thanks to teachers like Cindy, it's comforting for those families to know their well children are in a safe, loving, compassionate school.

Target presents "PEOPLE All-Star Teachers" is just one part of Target, MLB and PEOPLE's effort to celebrate teachers and raise awareness about the importance of education this baseball season. MLB Legends have attended Target-hosted School Library Makeover events in MLB communities throughout the first half of the season including Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Vinny Castilla, Ron Cey, Cliff Floyd, Luis Gonzalez, Tim Laudner, Gary Matthews, Tony Oliva, Harold Reynolds and Michael Young. Guests and fans can visit ABullsEyeView.com/Baseball for regular updates and behind-the-scenes access to campaign activities leading up to the All-Star Game.

About Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the longest running professional sports league in the United States and consists of 30 member Clubs in the U.S. and Canada, representing the highest level of professional baseball. Under the guidance of its ninth Commissioner, Allan H. (Bud) Selig, MLB has experienced dramatic changes including Interleague Play, the introduction of the Wild Cards, the new expanded Postseason format, the most comprehensive drug testing program in U.S. professional sports, an unprecedented era of labor peace, significant revenue sharing among the Clubs and growth in revenue from $1.2 billion in 1992 to more than $8 billion in 2013. The last ten years have produced the ten best-attended individual seasons in MLB history, including more than 74 million fans in 2013. With the continued success of MLB Network, MLB Advanced Media and the MLB Fan Cave, the National Pastime is consumed more often and in more ways than ever before. For more information on Major League Baseball, visit mlb.mlb.com.

 About Target

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) serves guests at 1,916 stores - 1,789 in the United States and 127 in Canada - and at Target.com. Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its profit through community grants and programs; today, that giving equals more than $4 million a week. For more information about Target's commitment to corporate responsibility, visit target.com/corporateresponsibility.


PEOPLE revolutionized personality journalism when it launched in 1974, and is now celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014. Each week PEOPLE brings more than 53 million consumers the latest news, exclusive interviews, and in-depth reporting on the most compelling people of our time. In addition to unparalleled access to the entertainment community, the stories of real-life "Heroes Among Us" remain an essential component of PEOPLE's editorial approach. PEOPLE.com is the premier web destination for celebrity news, photos, style, and entertainment coverage. With reporters across the globe, PEOPLE is headquartered in New York City and is published by Time Inc. For more information visit www.PEOPLE.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.