Veteran sees a bright dawn

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— Everything came up roses this year for Strawberry Park media specialist Ann Mattlage Gilbertson and that makes her retirement even sweeter.

"I'm going on to new adventures," Gilbertson said from the media center this week. "This has been a joyful year, not only academically, but personally."

She has been in the Steamboat Springs RE-2 School District for 27 years and teaching for 32 years, seven of them at Strawberry Park. She recently got married and went to both her son and her daughter's wedding.

Professionally, Gilbertson said, the library is completely converted to a new system that connects all the local libraries. She also said that literacy programs for teachers abound in the district.

"I'm leaving at an exciting time in literacy in the wake of Read/Write Connection and Six-Trait," she said.

Gilbertson grew up in Waco, Texas, where her father was vice-president of Baylor University. Her first job in junior high school was working in the university library. It sparked a passion.

"I got really into books and the workings of the library," she said.

Gilbertson got into elementary education, teaching for few years before moving to Steamboat Springs in 1973. She worked at Soda Creek Elementary as a third- and fifth-grade teacher and then as its media specialist. She was part of the design team for the Soda Creek media center addition in the early 1990s.

"My experience in education has really been refreshed every few years, starting as a classroom teacher and then moving into the library," she said.

Seven years ago, she took over Jane Romberg's position at Strawberry Park, which was another invigorating change.

Gilbertson said the library is the hub of the school and she worked as a team with all the other staff members.

Over the years, Gilbertson has had the opportunity to see children who just delight in reading and who will be readers for life.

"You can always pick them out in every class," she said. "The kids who are just turned on to the wonderful world of reading."

Gilbertson is being replaced by Sherry Holland. She said she knows her media center will be in good hands. She and her husband, Greg, are going to stay in Steamboat and spend time with her children and grandchild, but also want to travel. Gilbertson is the choir director at Condcordia Lutheran Church, which will keep her busy, she said. She may substitute in the media centers and in music classes and definitely wants to come back for storytimes.

Gilbertson said she will miss picking out new children's books each year. But most of all, she will miss the people.

"How could you not miss the camaraderie of the teachers?" she said. "How could you not miss the children after 30 years?"

To reach Jennifer Bartlett call 871-4204 or e-mail jbartlett@amigo.net

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