By Kim Johnson

ANOKA, Minn. (WCCO) — It might be the biggest compliment a teacher can get, when your own child nominates you for Excellent Educator.

“She is just awesome, she’s a really good teacher,” Mary Ann Toenjes said about her mom.

Mary Ann says she was always jealous of her friends who got to have her mom, Susie Toenjes, as a teacher in 4th grade. Because she says her mom is so fun! We head into her classroom at St. Stephens Catholic School in Anoka to see what makes her such an Excellent Educator.

Mother’s Day might still be a month away, but one daughter is already showing her appreciation.

“She’s a great mom and she’s a great teacher and she cares for her kids and will do anything for them to succeed,” Mary Ann said.

“It makes me feel very special,” Susie said.

Susie began her teaching career 34 years ago.

“It was either a secretary or a teacher — teacher kind of won out,” Susie said. “I was a great babysitter when I was young and kind of fed into that through high school and college.”

She’s taught first, third, and fifth grade, but her current crop is her favorite.

“I love fourth-graders because they always like you all the time. They’re always ready to learn. They’ve stop tattling. They’re just great,” she said.

A discovery with one of her kids at home prompted her to go back to school herself. Her son is on the autism spectrum. Susie wanted to be able to identify others in school who may also be on the spectrum or have learning disabilities.

“Every learner is different and that’s probably what has changed the most in teaching, you can’t just teach a whole class anymore some students need more in math or reading,” Susie said. “I hope I have some skills that will help others.”


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