By Kim Johnson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the start of a new school year for students and for teachers. WCCO is excited for another great year of recognizing the educators who go above and beyond!

There is no better teacher to start off, than Ms. Ann Uzendoski, a former St. Paul Public Schools teacher who came out of retirement to work at Banaadir Academy in Minneapolis. The charter school serves children in the Somali Community and Ms. U, as they call her, makes the newcomers feel right at home. It’s what makes her an Excellent Educator.

Any time students fall behind in this K-6th grade school, Ann Uzendoski is there to help.

“I have a wonderful job because I go from grade to grade,” she said.

Ms. U came out of retirement because she says she missed the children.

“I thought maybe I would work a year or two and then it became three and then it became four because I love my children, I love their parents, their families,” she said.

Banaadir Academy has a 100 percent Somali population. Some of the students are Somalia born, some are new to the United States.

“Most of them are learning English and if you can think back, back when we were in school it was hard enough in English and if you have to add the cognitive load of trying to learn a new language besides working on the standards, you can imagine the difficulty,” she said.

Recognizing this challenge, Ms. U interacts has a special touch when interacting with the students.

“We have a lot of kids that come from difficult situations, but she takes a lot of time to get to know the kids and make them feel welcome,” said Joe Hutchins, Assistant Principal.

She’s a teacher who tried retirement, but much rather prefers this. Another start of a new school year, with perhaps many more yet to come.

“Who knows you guys, I might be around for another 6 years,” said Ms. U.

Kim Johnson


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