Rignell: A talk with a teacher who will be recognized as an active student

Linda Andrews Obrycki has a clear passion to provide the best education for preschool-age students.
She closed her 22nd year as an Early Childhood teacher in Monticello District 882 by leading summer camps for art and literacy, math and science through the four weeks in June, along with a tumbling and gymnastics class.
During a visit to our office last week, she noted that her next year of classes at the Eastview Family Center will start in late September. Her schedule runs 10 weeks in the fall, she said, and eight weeks each in the winter and spring. If a class isn’t taking place in a gym, such as the tumbling class (where Obrycki notes the movement will stimulate early brain development while building self-confidence), there is still lots of activity in every session. “Keeping your body healthy, keeping your mind healthy,” she said.
In late October, she’ll return to her high school alma mater in Fridley for recognition as being an active student.
Fridley High School will host a third annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet, a ceremony that each year has included special recognition for several alumni that put Fridley on the map as a group in some way.
Though she has always loved being active in sports such as gymnastics, softball and volleyball, Obrycki went through high school at a time (graduating in 1966) when girls’ athletics were not sanctioned by a state league though individual schools – including Fridley – offered some programs.
When not being active in one of her sports, or in the school choir, the Art Club, or working on the school paper or yearbook, Obrycki was an official cheerleader for boys’ athletics at Fridley.
At the Oct. 26 banquet, Fridley District 14 officially will honor students and coaches who were involved in winning a state wrestling title. That feat for the team came in 1967, but those seniors and juniors built such a dynasty throughout the mid-60s that all alumni who were active with wrestling through the period have been asked to come celebrate the memory. Obrycki cheered for the wrestling team and other sports for three years.
She continued her academics by studying business at Anoka-Ramsey Community College before she opened north metro shops to sell educational toys. She attended St. Cloud State University for her training, degree and certification as an Early Childhood teacher. She notes that she is still learning. “You’re always learning,” she said. “(Life) is always changing, so you’re always learning.”
She is glad to have grown up in a time when computers and technology weren’t introduced into classrooms as early as today. She said there are enough young people out of 12th grade today who cannot think or do math for themselves. “If a computer goes down, they can’t even give change back,” she said. There are children, she lamented, “who can find their name on a computer, and spell it, but not hold a pencil. … The brain is your first computer. Once you get those connections, and the memory, then you can go to that (a keyboard and monitor).”
Obrycki said there are some adults who don’t believe in the brain growth that she emphasizes in the very active Early Childhood activities. “Kids are active learners. They’re not paper people,” she said. “They say play isn’t learning. That’s bull, because that’s what kids do.”
Youth in the ’60s were more inclined to go outdoors, she said – “We had the time to go outside and be physical. You didn’t want to be in the house.”
She says parents should encourage their children to find any sport that fits their personality and interest, and foster that activity. They don’t need to reach a state competition to be successful, she notes.
Finding a sport “develops the brain,” Obrycki said. “It teaches math.”
We’ll join Obrycki in wishing all students in Monticello and elsewhere a great new year. Spend enough time with your books, but not too much time. When you’re not reading at a desk or in your room, find as much time as possible to exercise your body while still exercising your mind by moving your arms and legs.

By Paul Rignell