Hopkins teacher is teacher of the year
As much as she draws inspiration from her students at Hopkins North Junior High, Carleen Gulstad says she thinks, too, of her older brother, Cedric.
He taught her to love Beethoven and Star Wars movies, she remembers of her sibling. He took his own life more than 20 years ago.
But she credited him today with what has been a notably successful teaching career.
Brooklyn Park, Minn. — Carleen Gulstad was named the 2008 Teacher of the Year this afternoon by Education Minnesota, the state's teachers union.
"He was an amazing teacher for me, and taught me about the glaciers and lakes and rocks and all that," Gulstad said of her late brother, at the luncheon where she was named to the teaching honor.
"He took me for walks. He taught me to read, he taught me to love music. And I wanted to carry on his work in teaching. And also, he was a guy that needed somebody to be there for him. And I wanted to be that teacher, to be there for some other kids."
Her colleagues apparently believe she has lived up to that inspiration. Principal Pat Schmidt credited her with having the fortitude to lead her 8th graders in discussions on race, religious identity and family relationships.
Gulstad said she even includes the musical Rent and the history of the Holocaust to the lessons she teaches.
She's been in the classroom at Hopkins North Junior High since 1999 and taught in the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton school district when she started her career in 1994.
Gulstad was 115 teachers to be considered for the state's top teaching honor. She's the 44th teacher of the year in Minnesota.
Last year's winner, Japanese language teacher Michael Smart, said the distinction is as much an assignment as an honor.
"It's not at all about being the best teacher," said Smart, who teaches at Robbinsdale High School. "It's about representing teachers and talking about education. So you get invited to talk a lot...to teachers, to the business community and to politicians."
Gulstad grew up in Virginia, Minnesota, and attended Concordia College in Moorhead -- where 1986 National Teacher of the Year, Guy Rice Doud, is also an alum. She got her master's degree at St. Mary's University in Minneapolis.
Gulstad lives in Maple Grove with her husband Dean and their 6-year-old son, Matthew.