Of all the “teachers of the year” who’ve been named since I moved to Minnesota in the last century, Carleen Gulstad stood out more than any other, mostly because of the credit she gave her brother at the luncheon honoring her last month. Her brother killed himself when she was 15.
“He was an amazing teacher for me, and taught me about the glaciers and lakes and rocks and all that,” Gulstad said. “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.”
“Because he was the kind of kid who struggled (with depression) and because he was a loner, I think about those kind of kids a lot. So a part of my teaching is to reach out to those kids, too, and to let them know that there’s somebody there for them,” she told MPR’s Gary Eichten the next day.
Gulstad has resigned her title “for personal reasons.”
During her appearance on MPR’s Midday, Gulstad seemed reluctant to talk about the politics that surrounds teaching. Questioned by a listener, she shied away — mostly — from the question of teacher salaries, and put emphasis instead on mentoring programs for teachers, saying that young teachers leave the profession because they feel alone.
She also displayed a neat insight into kids. “Kids are kids,” she said, “but now they’re developing in a world that’s moving faster than ever.”
A replacement will be named soon. Presumably they’ll come from the other finalists: Joe Beattie of Hastings High School; Rose Regan, Pine Bend Elementary School; Diane Weiher, Lake Harriet Community School; John Bade, Northfield Middle School; Julie Buryska, Wilson Elementary School (Northfield) ; Gordon Westendorf, Proctor High School; Steve Brehmer, Mayo High School; Lynne Meyer, Greenleaf Elementary School (Rosemount area) and Derek Olson, Afton-Lakeland Elementary School.