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Developing a love of music

Sibley Elementary music teacher retires after almost 25 years

A Sibley Elementary School music teacher who spent nearly 25 years in the district has retired.

Teresa Bergene, 58, retired after 24 years of teaching in Albert Lea. Prior to that, she taught for 10 years in Austin, as well as two years in Southland School District.

“It’s both exciting and a little scary to know what the new things that will come my way,” she said. “Looking forward to spending time with family and my grandchildren, but also coming back to help out with being a guest teacher.”

In her position, Bergene taught students music to prepare them for performance-based music education at the high school level. She integrated fine arts with classroom subjects while teaching a specific curriculum.

“Whatever we do here is to prepare them for whatever music groups they would like to be a part of in their secondary,” she said.

“It’s something that they can enjoy for life.”

Children have asked her to be a guest teacher, Bergene said.

“I won’t come here every day, but I don’t really feel like I am going to be gone forever,” she said.

Bergene, the former music director at Sibley, looked at her job as perfect for her.

“Just being able to continue doing music that I always loved, from being an elementary student myself,” she said.

Bergene began her career as a music therapist by teaching music to high-risk students.

“By pairing the music with physical therapy, it helped them to actually do the exercise and not really be thinking about how hard they are working, because they were doing it with music,” she said.

“I use music therapy every day. It’s just a great way to reach every learner.”

Bergene has three grown children, as well as two grandchildren. A native of Rose Creek, Bergene lives east of Austin. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in music therapy from the College of St. Teresa and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from Minnesota State University-Mankato. She has attained her master’s degree in educational leadership from Southwest State University.

While in Albert Lea, Bergene was a member of the National Association of Music Educators and Minnesota Music Educators Association, and she was a nominee for Teacher of the Year in Albert Lea.

Bergene recalled a recent email she received from a parent of a student as a proud moment.

“Her own children always came home and said they knew no matter what type of student they were, they always knew they were welcome here,” she said. “It was always a place they knew they could have fun.”

Mollie Mickelson, who will assume Bergene’s position next school year, spoke of the positive affect Bergene had on students.

“You can tell that the students are always so engaged and excited to be in here, and sometimes they’ll be coming from gym and they’ll be frustrated, or something happened in there, but they’ll come in here and see Mrs. Bergene and just be happy and kind of re-energized, ready to do something else,” she said. “She always makes it such a welcoming, positive environment, and you can tell students really love it. We will miss her.”

Other Albert Lea teachers who are retiring this year are Penny Hagen, Brenda Morris, Cindy Jones, Mary Hinnenkamp and Roxanne Irons.


About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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