July 26, 2007 at 8:21 a.m.
Berntson, a retired teacher, has headed the Pioneer School at the old one-room school house in Taylors Falls for many years. She used to do most of the planning and organizing for the sessions, which are run through the Taylors Falls Historical Society.
Now Berntson is ready to take a team approach in leading the three weekly sessions held each June and July. This year, Jean McIntyre took the lead and served as head teacher during the sessions, but Berntson and fellow teacher Donna Keacher were also instrumental in leading the class through lessons, activities, field trips and games.
Next year, Berntson will be on hand, but she probably won't lead any of the class activities. Berntson said she doesn't mind, because she has such a good group of people to work with at the school, including volunteer teachers and other helpers.
Berntson maintains a healthy spunk and is simply grateful that she can return to the one-room school house each year. On a new hip and going from being nearly legally blind two years ago to having almost perfect vision today, Berntson cannot imagine slowing down soon, and wouldn't consider missing Pioneer School next year.
She and the rest of the team have already decided on a theme that concentrates on pioneer life - showing the students what it was really like to be a kid in Minnesota during the 1800s.
The class sessions offer something different every year, and every day of the session. Depending on the theme, these include special guest speakers/musicians/artists, walking field trips, arts and crafts and plenty of time for old-fashioned games, usually played inside the Taylors Falls Community Center across the street from the school.
Pioneer School is offered in two or three sessions during June and July, Tuesdays through Thursdays.