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Friends & Neighbors

Gail Grabow's urge to teach came early in life, when she convinced her younger brothers to "play school" with her as often as she could.

She got her first taste of real teaching when she was a high school student at Fargo Central High school. She became a helper at her church's Vacation Bible School -- where she would subsequently teach classes during the summer months.

"I loved it," she says, adding that it really sparked her interest and made her think teaching might just be her calling.

After she graduated high school, Grabow decided to pursue a degree in elementary education, first at Concordia College and then at Moorhead State (now Minnesota State) University in Moorhead.

"I graduated with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education," she recalls.

Now married, Grabow followed her husband Richard to Dover, Del., where he was stationed with the U.S. Air Force.

"My first teaching job was at East Elementary in Dover," she says. "I stayed there for four years. It was a wonderful place to be -- they had great faculty, great kids, great parents. It was really fun.

"Plus, there's so much history in the East. It's really an enriching social studies experience."

But then, her husband's career brought them back to Moorhead, and Gail began substitute teaching in Moorhead Public Schools.

About a year and a half later, Richard was hired as city administrator in Detroit Lakes (a position he still holds), and they moved to Detroit Lakes in the spring of 1975.

The following fall, Gail was hired at Audubon Elementary (now Lake Park-Audubon Elementary) School as a fourth grade teacher -- a position she holds to the present day.

Nearly 32 years after starting her teaching career in Audubon, Grabow has achieved what many would consider the ultimate honor in her profession: Last month, she was selected as Teacher of the Year for LP-A Schools.

"It's an absolutely awesome, overwhelming honor," she says. "But I share this award with the entire faculty -- I feel I'm just a representative for all of them -- and that's an honor in itself.

"This Teacher of the Year program is such a positive boost for all the teachers at LP-A," she added.

Grabow will be honored by her colleagues, friends and family at a special breakfast this Monday, Jan. 15, at 8 a.m.

"The staff at LP-A is excellent," she says. "I feel so fortunate to have such caring and talented colleagues -- faculty, staff and administrators.

"We're a pretty close-knit group," Grabow adds. "We share materials, share ideas, and have a really good, positive rapport with each other."

According to the Lake Park Raider, one of the reasons for her nomination included her willingness to "go the extra mile" to teach, show, and instruct all of her students. Her dedication and professionalism make her an excellent representative for the teaching profession.

"Every class is different," she says. "it's a joy to see the children's interest in various areas grow and watch that learning spark take hold. You can tell they're excited.

"It's also really rewarding to see the confidence they build in themselves and their abilities when they know they can accomplish a difficult task... at this age, they're so eager. They want to do well -- to learn more, to be successful. It makes this age group really fun to teach."

Grabow adds, "I have loved teaching since my very first day in the classroom. It has been both a challenging and rewarding career... I always enjoy hearing from and seeing former students, and have had several of their children in my classes the last few years."

Besides Richard, her husband of nearly 40 years, Gail has four children and three grandchildren. Dan and Carol Grabow and their two children, Charlie and Ellie live in Minneapolis. Jennifer Grabow and David Perry live in Eden Prairie with their daughter, Cora. Nicholas attends Lake Superior College in Duluth and Kelsey is a freshman at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454