February Literacy Leader: Mary Gilbertson

We would like to congratulate Mary Gilbertson of Open Door Learning Center - Arlington Hills as our February Literacy Leader! Mary started volunteering as a teacher at Arlington Hills in October of 2012. However, she first began her work with ESL students early on in her career as a teacher in the ESL program at Highland Junior and Senior High in St. Paul. Mary appreciated these students' tenacity in the classroom and their eagerness to learn. "Looking back at that time," she says, "I believe I learned more from them than they learned from me." Inspired by her students at Highland, Mary decided to continue her work with ESL by becoming a Minnesota Literacy Council volunteer.

Mary is drawn to the strong community spirit she finds at Open Door Learning Center - Arlington Hills. "You can feel it the minute you walk in the door." She says, "It is clear the students know they are welcome, cared for, and valued. I am glad to be a part of it!" Not only is Mary an important part of this community, she is one of the volunteer teachers responsible for creating this welcoming atmosphere at the learning center.  Nominated by learning center coordinator Sarah Lund, Mary is known for her compassion towards her students and dedication as a volunteer.

While teaching the Level 5-6 ESL class Tuesdays at the learning center, Mary finds this same enthusiasm in her students at Arlington Hills that she did in her students at Highland Junior and Senior High. Mary knows her adult students have to juggle many responsibilities in their lives including jobs and families, and admires their strong commitment to learning, despite these other obligations. "It is clear that [my students] want to be there," she says. "They are enthusiastic and eager to learn." Mary's own dedication to teaching has contributed to her students' desire to come to class each day. Her passion for learning, as well as the respect she shows to all her students, make her an outstanding Literacy Leader. Thank you, Mary!  


Written by Emily Crenner, Volunteer Outreach Intern

Do you know an exceptional volunteer? Each month the Minnesota Literacy Council highlights a talented and enthusiastic adult literacy volunteer in Minnesota. To nominate someone you know, please contact Erik Erkkila.

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