'A wonderful experience' for Brasket
Posted on: Aug 9, 2019
Over the past 22 years, preschool students in Susan Brasket’s classroom constructed elaborate and often messy projects, memorized poetry, danced to music, read stories and generally engaged all five senses in the activities of the day.
“Being here gave me an opportunity to do things I enjoy,” Brasket said at an early summer gathering in celebration of her retirement. “We always joked about how we couldn’t make the art projects any bigger. I always warned the parents that we were going to have a whole art experience.”
Community Education Director Diane Johnson said Brasket was highly sought after by Delano families.
“Susan was kind of the bedrock for the Wee Tiger Preschool program,” Johnson said. “Everybody truly wanted her as their child’s teacher. She was very enthusiastic, very positive, and had a love for children. That enthusiasm for teaching stayed all the way through.”
Brasket said it was easy to stay engaged because of her students. What did she enjoy most about them?
“Little ones are not afraid to tell you how they feel. They’re honest. They speak their mind,” she said. “Every moment is a teaching moment. It’s just a gift to someone who wants to teach to have minds that want to learn. And they always have something to share. Always. It could be what they had for breakfast or what they saw outside. I’ve just loved it.”
Becoming a preschool teacher
Brasket entered college intending to pursue studies in anthropology and archeology, but she eventually shifted to education after considering career possibilities and her own passion for working with children. Previous experiences as a camp counselor and Sunday school teacher helped confirm that decision. She obtained her teaching license for grades six through 12, but took a job teaching preschool at the Jewish Community Center in St. Paul.
After marrying and beginning her own family, she stayed busy with her own children and took in many others for story times and art projects. Eventually she began working in the media center at Delano Elementary School where she read stories and did book displays, and after a year there she stepped in as a long-term substitute for the preschool program.
“I had my teaching license and working with kids is just something I always did,” Brasket said. “And then I stayed.”
While her license was for higher grade levels, Brasket’s experience and professional development efforts were geared toward younger ages.
“I took every class I could, so I have 20 years of early childhood continuing education,” she said.
Brasket and her helpers had a saying about their art projects: “The bigger, the better. The more glitter, the better. The more paint, the better.”
Projects included making eggs out of shaving cream and paint. Another involved cutting tag board into the shapes of pigs and using chocolate pudding for mud. Other memorable materials included applesauce, and cinnamon and lemon scents.
Around the holidays the students would ring bells and dance to Christmas music, and each month there was a new poem to memorize.
“I bet today if you stopped one of my old students they could tell you one of the poems they memorized, because they all knew them,” said Brasket. “That’s a good free reading skill, to listen for rhyming, so I’ve been doing that forever.”
During quieter moments, Brasket savored the opportunity to cultivate a love of books in her students.
“Story time was my favorite,” she said. “That’s what I’ll miss the most.”
Each year was capped with a program during which students sang songs and recited their repertoire of poetry.
“We’d have all the parents in and we’d get a graduation cake. The deal was if they were really loud and they did beautiful singing for me there would be [a huge amount of frosting on it],” said Brasket.
As a side benefit of her work in the classroom, Brasket particularly enjoyed the connections she forged with numerous families as she taught groups of siblings.
“Those relationships were amazing,” she said.
With a flexible schedule in retirement, Brasket plans to spend more time with friends and family. Her husband, Peter, is a former member and chair of the Delano School Board.
Brasket also intends to do more traveling, and may even pursue her interest in archeology by participating in a dig somewhere in the United Kingdom. In the meantime, her own painting and drawing projects will satisfy her love of art.
While there is plenty to look forward to, Brasket said she will miss her students and fellow teachers.
“They weren’t my co-workers, they were my friends,” she said. “We were always there for each other.”
All in all, Brasket said she would remember her time with Delano Public Schools fondly.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” she said.
Post Categories: Community Education