Teacher for all seasons; Marsha Wilson named Austin’s 2017 top teacher
Published 10:44 am Thursday, November 17, 2016
Banfield Elementary School teacher Marsha Wilson on Wednesday morning was intent on handing out a math test to her fourth graders, when a delegation of people suddenly showed up at her classroom door.
Startled, she watched Dave Brown, head of the Austin Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year committee, walk to the front of the classroom and announce that she was the committee’s top choice for the 2017 honor.
Then some tears came, especially when Wilson saw her mom, dad, daughter and husband in the crowd in the back of the room.
Email newsletter signup
Fellow teachers, administrators and even friends from Nebraska, gathered to applaud her for the honor.
“Did you know?” she asked her husband, Dan, who had been let in on the secret two weeks before.
“Two weeks!” she exclaimed. “The guy who can never keep a secret!”
Comments of “Oh, wow,” and “Awwwwwww” came from students, grins wide.
“I am just so thankful” for the honor, she said over and over again.
Principal Jeff Roland called Wilson’s selection “a slam-dunk.”
“She is a master teacher who wears all the hats — parent, social worker, teacher, nurse and she wears them all so effortlessly,” he said. “And her kids — all her kids — are always made to feel part of the class, and welcomed in her class. And, she is a great role model for our younger teachers — she is a true asset” to the classroom, he added.
Wilson, an Austin native, attended her own elementary classes at Banfield. She went into teaching, she said, to honor her grandmother, Mildred Scofield, who was also a teacher.
“She would bring her things home and we would help her correct papers, play as if we were teaching school. I always wanted to be a teacher like her.”
She was also a stellar student. When asked about her favorite subject, she could not answer.
“I loved math; I loved reading; I loved science; I could never pick,” she said with a laugh.
Wilson is a graduate of Austin High School and graduated from Riverland Community College, finishing her last two years of her degree at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. She holds two master’s degrees: a curriculum and instruction degree from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth; and her math and literacy degree from the University of Minnesota. She began teaching at Banfield in 1986.
She has had her own impact on her family. Her daughter, Katie Ferrell, is a math teacher at Ellis Middle School; her son Nathan is a physical education instructor at Albert Lea Public Schools. Daughter Becca is an archivist for the University of Minnesota.
Her parents, Erling and Martha Opsahl, live only a block from Banfield.
“We are very proud of her,” said Martha.
“She teaches me a lot,” joked her dad.
Brown said anyone who knows Wilson knows “that she is a wonderful teacher, loved by all and loved by her students.”
Wilson said if she had had success, it is due to “all the wonderful teachers, the wonderful mentors, who have all contributed to the teacher that I am. This is such an honor — and it is because of these teachers. I have been so lucky.”
Wilson’s name will now be submitted in nomination to the 2017 Minnesota State Teacher of the Year honor, to be announced in May. A panel of 20-25 community leaders will select the state teacher of the year. They will first pick a semifinalist field and then a finalist field of 10-12.
Peers, school personnel, parents and students may nominate a candidate. There were 24 nominees in Austin this year, representing just about every school.
Other teachers considered for the award this year were: Angie Jannsen, Bill Kinney, Brad Dahnert, Eric Kossoris, Charles Brandt, Jayme Lamers, Jessica Brandt, Jim Leichtnam, John Schneider, Laurie Herman, Lindsay Sorenson, Liz Blinn, Maria Mickelson, Matt Raso, Carene Pline, Rebecca Veldman, Sarah Heller, Steve Bamrick, Sue Conway, Terea Van Proosdy, Tim Owen, Jodi Eich and Tracy Garry.