Garlough Environmental Magnet School

West St. Paul Teacher Among Teacher of the Year Candidates

Garlough Teacher Anne Bolsem

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A Garlough teacher is included among the candidates for the annual Minnesota Teacher of the Year award. The teacher, Anne Bolsem, teaches kindergarten at Garlough Environmental Magnet School in West St. Paul. The group of 77 Teacher of the Year candidates will be narrowed down to semi-finalists and finalists, with a winner chosen in May.

“My initial response was shock,” Bolsem said. “I never imagined I would be nominated for something like this.”

This is the 58th year for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year, a program that celebrates excellence in teaching. In the history of the program, ISD 197 has never had a teacher honored as Teacher of the Year.

A Quarter Century of Teaching

“Anne is committed to excellence and always doing the best she can for her students,” Garlough Principal Sue Powell said. “She never gives up. She never thinks she knows all the answers, because there is always more to learn. That is the definition of a Teacher of the Year in my opinion.”

Bolsem, who has a doctorate in education, is in her 25th year of teaching. She’s spent all but one of those years in ISD 197 and 22 years at Garlough. She’s taught kindergarten for eight years and previously taught first and second grade and served as an instructional coach helping other teachers.

“My reaction right now is one of gratitude and honor,” Bolsem said. “I was humbled by the way other people with whom I work see me as a professional and as a person. There are so many amazing teachers worthy of this nomination.”

The Pandemic Challenge

Teachers are in their third school year disrupted by the pandemic. It’s a challenge that has not only sapped teachers but also made it difficult to recharge over the summer.

“So much is being asked of teachers and many of us are only half-full,” Bolsem said. “It is hard to keep giving of yourself when you are running out of yourself to give.”

Bolsem noted many teachers regularly give more than 100% to serve their students, which makes the current struggle even harder.

“I recommend that anyone who knows an educator take time to check in on them,” Bolsem said. “Ask them how they are really doing and listen to their response. Find ways to support and encourage them, maybe by taking something off of their plate. Give grace and model patience. Show appreciation and thank them for all they do, both what you can see and what you cannot see.”

A Lasting Impact

As a longtime, committed educator, Bolsem said her favorite part of being a teacher is the relationships she forms with her students and their families.

“Being the parent of a special needs child, I understand how valuable the connection between a child/family and their teachers really is,” Bolsem said. “When my students feel safe and loved here at school, they are willing to take risks and push themselves to grow in ways they never thought possible.”

Powell echoes that sentiment: “She has not only impacted the students in her classroom that benefit from her direct instruction, love and understanding, she has impacted the parents and guardians, which has a lasting impact beyond the year the students are in her classroom.”

March 2, 2022 Update: Bolsem Not a Semifinalist

Education Minnesota released their list of 25 semifinalists for the 2022 Teacher of the Year, and Garlough teacher Anne Bolsem did not make the cut. She’s still in a select group of teachers as one of the 77 candidates for 2022.

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