By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN A walk through the halls at Delano Middle School reveals the noise of students ready for summer break.
With their activity level at an all-time high, it could be said many teachers and staff are also ready for a vacation.
Soon, fifth grade teacher Sharon Keller will be leaving her classroom behind to spend the next few months golfing and traveling with her husband of 35 years, Gary Keller.
However, she admits that come August, she will be ready to return. Though she has had a teaching career spanning 38 years, she isn’t ready to retire just yet.
“I just don’t feel ready to retire yet,” said Keller. “I still enjoy the job, the kids, and the staff. I just can’t imagine not coming to school in the fall to get ready for a new set of students and set up my room. It is something I look forward to at the end of every summer.”
Growing up in Brooklyn Center, Keller said she was a shy child until junior high, when she became involved in school musicals and plays at church.
After trying new business ventures, her father settled into the used car and mechanical garage industry and her mother helped with the company.
“They worked together every day for about 30 years, until my brother took over the business. My mom is 87 years old and still does the books for my brother, and my mom takes care of my dad, who has Parkinson’s Disease,” she said.
In high school, the select choir was Keller’s focus, along with the Latin Club, and she was a member of the National Honor Society.
Because Keller enjoyed working with children while teaching Sunday school, she decided to go into teaching.
She graduated from the University of Minnesota and received her master’s degree from St. Thomas.
Before teaching in Delano, she taught in St. Cloud for a year-and-a-half, then one year in Kansas City, MO.
Though Keller has been at Delano Middle School since 1971, she took a year maternity leave when both of her children were born. She has taught at the middle school for 36 years.
“I have taught with Sharon for over 20 years,” said Delano Middle School teacher Sue Wallinga. “She is a very kind and caring person. Sharon has been a great mentor and friend since I first started teaching in Delano. I feel very fortunate to be able to team with her.“
Christopher Keller, Sharon’s son, is now 34 years old and has given Keller four beautiful granddaughters, whom she cares for very often. Christopher lives in Delano with his wife, Tiffney, where he owns a business applying invisible paint protection to automobiles.
Keller’s daughter, Melissa, lives in Los Angeles and is a professional model, who has graced the pages of many magazines, ads, and commercials, including being featured in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition three times.
Melissa is now trying to break into the movies, and has appeared in two full-length movies, as well as some TV shows.
For 44 years, Sharon’s husband owns A+ Auto Brokers in Maple Plain, and the couple has lived in Loretto since 2000.
Like the students in her fifth grade classroom, Keller is looking forward to summer vacation, but, as she has for 36 years, in August she will look forward to setting up her classroom for a new group of students moving up from the elementary school.