By Kim Johnson

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Preschool is often the first experience kids have with school. For their parents, it can be their first time sending them off. One teacher in Maple Grove strives to make it an easy transition for everyone.

Mary Gilbertson at Basswood Elementary takes her profession of teaching preschoolers seriously. Her respect for the tiniest of tots is what makes her this week’s Excellent Educator.

Gilbertson has surrounded herself with 4-year-olds for 20 years. But she says they continue to teach her.

“It’s a pleasure to see the excitement in their eyes of finding something out for the very first time, and I think we forget that as we get older, something as small as the flower watching it grow is wonderful for them, so it makes us look at things a little bit closely,” she said.

Children come into her classroom, many lacking the social skills needed to move on to grade school.

“Social skills would be raising hands, being able to sit still, being able to take turns lining up in the hall,” she said.

It’s Gilbertson’s job to make sure they’re ready.

She does so by working one-on-one with each student. But she also teaches by example, holding herself to a higher standard, she’s gained a reputation for dressing nicely.

“This is my passion, this is my profession,” she said. “I take ownership and pride in making myself presentable not just for the kids but teaching them that carrying ourselves is part of being responsible, being respectful.”

Once her current batch of students graduates to kindergarten, Gilbertson can’t wait for the next. But she says her favorite part is seeing her students succeed years down the road.

“Now I have successful college graduates and know that I had a part of that at the very beginning,” she said.


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