Visit the Sentinel Tribune website
May 10, 2017
Carolyn Enstad reflects on 37 years teaching
Enstad says, “It’s all about respect, I show respect for students and they show respect for me”
|Carolyn Enstad at her desk in room 118.|
WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- WWg — Carolyn Enstad has had a storied career, both as a librarian and as a language arts teacher, in a quite literal sense.
Carolyn (Klima) Enstad grew up on a farm just a few short miles south of Lakefield on Highway 86. She went to school in a one room country school just down the road from where she grew up, through sixth grade. She, to this day, keeps a photo of her teacher Alice Hummel, on her desk. Hummel had taught Enstad from first grade through sixth grade.
Enstad says, “If you look on my desk you will see pictures mostly of my family, hers is the only other photo on my desk, so you know how important to me that she is.” It was a huge influence on her, as in fourth through sixth grade she was the only one in her class.
After finishing sixth grade she attended Lakefield junior and high school. While there she recalls her language arts teacher, Mr, Dale Green. “He made it really fun to be in his class,” she said.
Her love for reading was always a part of her life. In country school there were only about 75 books, “I loved reading and reading them many times over,” Enstad said. In high school and college Enstad enjoyed participating in speech and theater, but also had a strong interest in academics as well.
She says her family always thought she was a bit of a “Drama Queen,” and if you know her you would say she is seldom at a loss for words. But her words are often from kindness and humility.
After graduating from Lakefield High School in 1969 she was off to college at Waldorf College at Forest City, Iowa. In 1971 she transferred to Mankato State University to major in speech, theater, and library science, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in 1973.
After graduating from college with a fresh bachelors degree, she began sending out letters to a number of schools at a time when there were very few jobs in her field.
One of those letters was to a school in Cody, Wyoming. She was all set to go for an interview, along with her mother. Low and behold the next day she had received a call from the Superintendent of Walnut Grove Public School, Glen Shaw, he had invited her to interview for a job. She immediately called her mom and said, “we are not going to Cody, I got an interview at Walnut Grove Public School. So, she and her mother went to Walnut Grove, a community much like her hometown of Lakefield for an interview with Shaw and principal Jack Holm. The interview lasted four hours, while her mother waited patiently. I was offered and accepted the job as K-6 librarian.
“I felt so lucky to get a job in a small community in southwest Minnesota — Mr. Shaw, took a chance on me. “I felt so fortunate, thanking him for taking a chance on me,” she said.
Enstad recalls visiting with him at his one hundredth birthday at the Tracy Nursing Home. “I thanked him again for taking a chance on me — he had a huge influence on my career,” Enstad said.
She was librarian all of the years she spent at Walnut Grove, but she did many other things whether it was guiding the school newspaper, cheerleading, or pep club, “I did whatever they needed in a small school,” she said.
In June of 1976 Carolyn met the love of her life and was married to Don Enstad. She continued at Walnut Grove as librarian, then took time off from 1980 through 1986 to become a stay at home mom after their daughter Kari was born. She took an additional year off after their son Brennan was born.
After that, fate brought another twist to Enstad after she was offered a job as librarian at Westbrook. She was librarian at the high school as well as the elementary school.
Her first classroom experience came when Westbrook and Walnut Grove joined together as a cooperative school. She began teaching speech, when WWG made speech a graduation requirement. She also taught several language arts classes.
When the junior high was moved to Westbrook she began teaching language arts for the seventh grade.
She loves teaching books — in one of her seventh grade classes she teaches a common novel. “I think it carries over from my librarian experience, whether it is the theme, author, or the story, it is my favorite way of teaching,” she says.
She has taught in many different areas at both schools, but now is settled in Room 118 — which at one time is where Deb Berg once taught second grade in Westbrook. She says, “I am thankful to have been a part of the evolution of both districts, and what they have become.”
“If someone would have told me I would have spent 37 years of teaching in WWG I would have not believed them, she said. Mr. Theisen and I are the two people that have a very similar path in our teaching careers — it has been great to have been on the path!”
She talked about students, saying, building relationships with the students respect — she has been very fortunate to have the respect of her students. “I care about them deeply — building relationships on any given day, it might be more important than the lesson I taught that day,” Enstad said.
Something she has learned looking back. “I feel I have become more flexible — I’ve given my students more choices, students learn in different ways, you still have students that will master on tests, others need different way of how they master their skills,” she said.
She says, “Humble and kindness goes a long way, we all need to say, what can I do to help you. I try not to sweat the small stuff — people will have good days and some not so good.”
“When I leave school at the end of each day in my classroom, to go home, I tell myself I did the best job that I can do — knowing that makes me feel I had a successful day. I gave it my best shot,” Enstad said.
Even with all of her 37 years of experience Enstad says “It is always good to ask for help when you need it.”
“Education is a two way street I learn as much from the students as they learn from me — I don’t know it all but I am learning every day,” she says. If things don’t always work out when you try something new, be willing to forgive yourself.
She is emphatic that students today really need to be built up, always focus on the positive, we need to keep that hope, they are our future!
True teaching is a special partnership, it only really works when the teacher reaches beyond the outer image, looks into the heart and understands and resects what they see. The students’ role is to allow the needs to be seen, not put who they are or have been but also who they could be.
She feels mentorship is an important part of what our district is about as they bring in new teachers and administrators.
In my teaching career I consider myself very lucky that I found myself surrounded by wonderful administration, teachers and support staff. They respected me for who I am and I respected them for who they are. They have always been there for me to help me in decision making.
On the books Enstad retired in January, but yet she was given the chance to come back for the last five weeks of school — she is grateful for that.
“Through the 37 years, I have taught with many different people some have left, retired or sadly passed away. I remember it as a team effort, they all became team players, we all have one goal — to teach kids and make them productive citizens — that is our mission, she said.
They have been friends more like family — we have shared good times and some bad times — I have kept in touch with many of them. Oh the memories and stories — they have been great teachers.
Enstad said “I am going to travel to places I’ve always wanted to go and haven’t been. I am going to read books that have been on my “must read” list for years. I will enjoy my flower gardening, photography, and learn new skills. In short, I plan to Live!”
A retirement party will be held for Carolyn Sunday, May 21, from 1 - 4 p.m. in the high school cafeteria, with a short program at 2. Cake and punch will be served.
© 2017 Sentinel Tribune
Westbrook, Minnesota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from STPNS