June 6, 2004
Forest Lake Times
It may not have always been an easy 34 years as a teacher for Terry Anderson, but she has enjoyed the journey.
Anderson, a 1966 Forest Lake High School graduate, began her teaching career as a third grade teacher in Linwood. Anderson spent seven years in Linwood before she moved on to teach fourth grade at Forest Lake Elementary.
Five years after arriving at Forest Lake Elementary, Anderson began a 10 year span where she alternated teaching first grade and second grade, staying with students for two years at a time. This year’s high school seniors are one of the groups that had Mrs. Anderson for two years.
“There are a lot of high school seniors that I know pretty well,” Anderson said.
During the ten years that she rotated grades, Anderson and other teachers who did the same thing made home visits to students’ homes.
“It was always an eye opener,” Anderson said. “It’s amazing how much you can learn and understand when you see the child in their home situation. The home visits only lasted 30 minutes but you learned a years worth of knowledge, and the parents got to know me better too.”
After 10 years of rotating back and forth between first and second grade, Anderson settled on second grade for the remainder of her teaching career.
In 1995 Anderson was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The diagnosis itself would have been enough for many people to quit their jobs and collect social security, but not for Anderson.
Anderson did her homework on MS and what she would encounter. Over time doctors recommended different accommodations that would make work easier, and to Anderson’s delight the school district did everything they could to help. As time passed the heat became an issue so the school district put an air conditioner in Anderson’s classroom.
“If she [Anderson] did not have an aide she would not be able to teach,” Anderson’s assistant Cheryl Hanna said. “The school district could have said no but they didn’t. Usually you have aides for children and not teachers.”
“I run a support group for MS and there are many people that simply quit when they experience difficulties at work,” Anderson said. “I didn’t want to do that. I felt with the accommodations I could continue teaching. I love teaching and I am appreciative of the school district for letting me teach as long as I have.”
For her appreciation, Anderson nominated the Forest Lake School District for the Minnesota Chapter MS Society Employer of the year in 1999. The school district won the award.
Anderson’s teaching did not end when the bell rang to end the day. She taught Sunday School at St. Peter’s Catholic Church and was a Boy Scout leader until her youngest boy reached Eagle Scout ranks.
As one of her two sons is finishing up his masters degree at Bethel College, Anderson says she has always been proud to be a teacher in Forest Lake and to say her boys got their education in Forest Lake.
“I have mixed feelings about retiring,” Anderson said. “I am going to miss the kids and the people I worked with. When you’re in a school you make a lot of good friends.”
It’s those relationships that has kept Anderson in the classroom for so many years. That and the kids.
“I love to teach kids to read,” Anderson said. “When the light bulb goes on, that’s very exciting every time it happens.”
That light bulb is a magical thing and teaching kids at such a formidable age Anderson has been lucky enough to see the light go on for many kids.
“The kids change so much,” Anderson said. When they come in most of them cant read and they don’t understand much about math. When they leave there is so much they learn.
Although she is retiring, Anderson still hopes to work with young children. Having helped so many children learn to read and understand math, she hopes she can continue helping in her retirement years.
Retirement won’t be all work for Anderson though. She plans on working
on different craft projects and reading lots of books, not to mention spending
time with her husband Jerry.
Copyright © 2004, ECM Publishers, Inc.