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North Hudson Elementary’s Room 111 bustles with learning and fun

Linda Rose cradles three “Letter People,” which her former students often mention when they see her. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Chuck Nowlen)

Linda Rose’s Room 111 at North Hudson Elementary School is packed to the hilt with color, action, real-life learning and fun everywhere you look.

Skeins of alphabet letters, the numbers 1 through 141 and sign-language placards wind all the way around the classroom above the SMARTboard, windows and shelves.

One entire wall is topped by a huge collection of bright, inflatable “Letter People” and puppets, and, in one corner, newborn chicks Stripe, Ninja, Fluffy, Goldie and Olaf mill around their pen while two finches make music in their cage a few yards away.

In between, there’s even a special box of wet soil for all the earthworms the kids have been studying this spring.

And that’s only the beginning for both the room and the educational futures of all the kindergarteners Rose teaches.

“Everybody remembers their kindergarten teacher,” laughs Rose, who will retire at the end of this term after 24 years in the Hudson School District.

Rose’s mission is to make sure her kids remember what they learned in Room 111 too and carry the learning habit with them for the rest of their lives.

“That’s the most important thing. I’m always thinking about how I can instill that love of learning and that desire to go on learning for all the years ahead of them,” she explains.

“The best part of my job? Oh, it’s the kids. Every day, the hugs I get and all the smiles -- kids are just very open and honest with you. Every morning, I know that I’ll be going into a room that the kids also want to go into and, most importantly, want to learn in.”

Rose’s former students often stop to see her when they’re in middle and high schools, and when they do, she’s ready.

“The first thing they ask when they see me is, ‘Do you still have the Letter People?’” she chuckles.

“I also create a memory book for every kindergartener I’ve ever taught, and it includes pictures and art projects they did throughout the year. I have been invited to many graduations and have always been surprised when their kindergarten memory books are displayed there.”

Nursing to start, teaching to finish

Rose didn’t start out wanting to be a teacher. She had pediatric nursing on her mind until an older classmate in college told her, “You’re a healer, but you would be such a great teacher.”

No surprise that the suggestion took root. Rose’s father was a high school chemistry teacher and a college physics professor; her grandfather taught high school math; her grandmother taught music and was a children’s librarian; and her great-great-grandmother taught kindergarten in the late-1800s.

“So we did have a lot of teachers in my family,” Rose notes. “I even played school at home with my brothers and sister.”

Her daughters Katie and Emily have also caught the teaching bug. Katie has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UW-River Falls, and Emily will be getting her master’s degree in school counseling this month, also from River Falls, their great-grandfather’s alma mater. Rose and her husband Samuel also have a son Corey.

Rose got her bachelor’s degree in 1979 from UW-Eau Claire and added a master’s degree from Winona’s St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2002. Before that came two years of teaching second grade at Hudson’s old Fourth Street School; four years of first grade at North Hudson Elementary, then 10 years off to raise her kids, the last three of which she taught preschool part-time at Trinity Tots.

At Trinity Tots, Rose met a “great mentor,” Linda Becken who persuaded her to apply for a half-day kindergarten spot in Hudson. Three years later in 1999, kindergarten became an all-day class throughout the school district. Rose has been at North Hudson Elementary ever since.

Changes and plans

Over the years, kindergarten has changed dramatically. Technology use has exploded. More learning also is required in class, where in most students’ parents’ days, it was mostly basic “letters, numbers, sounds and play.”

“Kindergarten now is more like what first grade was in the ‘80s,” Rose notes. “There’s a lot of reading, phonics, writing, math and science -- all of it has really been stepped up.”

She thinks today’s kids need more social activity and play time, and she includes both as much as she can in her daily lessons. To teach her kids basic math, for example, she had her class set up an imaginary grocery store, including partner and group activities.

“Cooperation is a big one for me,” Rose explains. “How to work together, how to play together and talk nice to each other: That’s something they work on all the time.”

She also noted that more of her kids have preschool experience these days, and she’d like to see the district set up a formal pre-kindergarten program so everyone starts kindergarten on a level playing field.

Those decisions, however, will be for others to make during Rose’s retirement which she says will be anything but humdrum day-to-day.

She and her husband will continue to feed their travel habit; they’ve already been to Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, Japan, Mexico and other destinations over the years. She’ll continue to bowl, golf and tend her garden. She’ll also do volunteer work, while cheering on the Twins and Packers, and visiting her father in home-town Minoqua.

Then, of course, there are her two grandchildren: Katie and husband Jason’s daughters, 4-and-a-half-year-old Zelli and 7-month-old Kira, who live nearby in Hammond.

“Zelli will be starting pre-kindergarten next fall,” Rose adds. “So that will be a lot of fun.”

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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