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Beach-Olson is 2021 BEA Teacher of the Year

Kindergarten teacher has been at BEA Elementary since 2010

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Apr 11, 2021

Blue Earth Area kindergarten teacher Robyn Beach-Olson was named the Teacher of the Year on Monday, March 29.

She was nominated by BEA school nurse Ann Crofton.

Crofton read her nomination letter at the awards ceremony, part of which said, “Robyn Beach-Olson never ceases to amaze me. She puts in so much extra effort and time for her students. In this very strange year, she has adapted to new demands and makes kids feel important. I truly believe Robyn’s students are developing a love of learning and feel cared about, despite this atypical school year.”

Or in the words of Alissa Norman, who has been student teaching with Beach-Olson since February, “She is a rock star, she is totally amazing.”

Beach-Olson says she was very touched to receive the Teacher of the Year award.

“It is really nice to be recognized, especially during a tough year like this,” Beach-Olson comments. “All of the teachers have been asked to do things they have never had to do before because of the pandemic. It has been quite an experience. The award is also very humbling because BEA has so many wonderful teachers who put so much time and effort into their students.”

The other teachers who were nominated for the award were Luke Beyer, who is also a kindergarten teacher and Paul Johnson, who teaches music at the high school.

Beach-Olson graduated from BEA in 1992 and received her degree in elementary education from Augsburg University in Minneapolis.

She admits being a teacher was not her original career choice.

“My original goal, which I came up with when I was five-years old, was to be an Olympic gymnast,” she says. “However, since I could not even do a good cart wheel it became apparent that idea was not going to work out.”

She shares she was probably destined to be a teacher.

“My parents, Don and Linda, were both teachers,” Beach-Olson explains. “I absolutely believe seeing my parents involved in education and being able to watch their work ethic and how they worked hard for their students was a big influence on my wanting to become a teacher.”

She married Jason Olson, a 1991 BEA graduate, in 1996 and began teaching in the St. Paul public school system in 1998.

“I taught third grade and fourth grade before moving to the kindergarten classroom,” Beach-Olson notes. “I was in the St. Paul system until 2003.”

It was at that time her husband had the chance to join his family’s farming operation west of Blue Earth.

“We moved back to Blue Earth in 2003, which is the same year we had our first child, Jacob,” she comments. “Jason joining the farming operation allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom. It was the best gig ever.”

The Olsons would later add a daughter, Lily, to the family and Beach-Olson would not return to teaching until 2010 when she was hired by BEA to teach first grade. Eventually she made the switch to be a kindergarten teacher.

“Five-year olds are so fun and very honest, even when you are not ready for their honesty,” Beach-Olson says laughing. “I am blessed to have a wonderful para, Jean Wagner, and an amazing student teacher, Alissa Norman, working with me in my classroom. They are both incredible. Jean is a great teaching partner and Alissa is such a natural. We get to laugh and smile and enjoy the kids.”

Even after teaching for so many years she states her job is still very rewarding.

“When you see the little light bulbs go on and the kids are actually understanding things and they are “getting” it; that is pretty satisfying,” Beach-Olson remarks.

She does say the last year has been difficult.

“The pandemic has been a kick in the teeth. We had to be separated from our kids when we were in the hybrid model,” Beach-Olson comments. “It has been such a challenging circumstance for everyone.”

Asked what her favorite part of the day is, she replies, “When the kids come in smiling and the coffee is still hot.”

Although she never had either of her own children in her classroom, she still enjoyed having them close by.

“Lily was always down the hall or a neighbor in a nearby room,” Beach-Olson says. “It is a special memory to see your own children in the hall, or on the playground or at the end of the day.”

She says her children found it useful that their mom was a teacher.

“It was really convenient for them if they forgot their shoes or backpack,” she shares. “But it was always nice to hear other teachers say nice things about your kids. The “mom hat” is always the biggest and it is easy to be proud.”

Now that her oldest child is only two months away from graduating from the same school she attended, she is feeling some other emotions.

“It is just like people say, time flies. It seems like he was a baby 11 minutes ago – but you go through all the wonderful moments and enjoy your children as they go through various stages growing up,” Beach-Olson says. “I am excited for him to have the independence he will gain when he leaves home.”

When she is not teaching, she says she enjoys being active and likes to cook and bake.

“I also love traveling with my family and having my children experience new places,” she shares.

So, while the Olympic gymnast dream did not work out for Beach-Olson, it seems as though the teaching gig has been very rewarding.

“I love the kids and the people I get to work with,” she says. “I feel very blessed to be at BEA.”