FAIRMONT - Tony Rosener makes it a point to know his students as human beings, not just as test scores.
"I know she loves horses," he said, pointing to a desk in the back of the room. "He loves sports, especially hockey."
Rosener can tell something special about each one. Showing interest in his students is one of the ways he builds trust and respect with his third-graders, a method that serves him well in managing his classroom.
Tony Rosener has been selected the 2012 Teacher of the Year at Fairmont Area Schools.
Rosener has been selected as 2012 Education Minnesota Fairmont's Teacher of the Year.
Like many teachers, his journey to the head of the classroom began when he was a student himself.
His high school had open study hall, and a gym teacher asked him to help in a class of younger students.
He agreed, and loved the job.
"That got me on the path to teaching," he said.
Rosener thought he might follow his mentor and become a physical education teacher, but the job market influenced his choice.
"When I went to school, there were not many jobs for gym teachers, so I switched to elementary education," he said.
After a year teaching sixth grade in Fairfax, he moved to Ceylon, where he taught seventh and eighth grade.
The year before Ceylon and Fairmont merged - and knowing the merger was coming - Rosener took a job as a third-grade teacher in Fairmont.
That was 17 years ago, and third grade is still where his heart is.
"The thing I like the most [about teaching third-graders] is how much growth socially and academically they experience in third grade," Rosener said. "I think third-graders have the hardest time in K-6. You will have more thrown at you in third grade than at any other time. That is why you see so much growth from the beginning to the end."
In addition to his class of 23 students, Rosener teaches technology to all third-graders. To accomplish this, his students are rotated to other third-grade teachers while their students are in tech class.
"We all get to know all the kids that way," he said.
In addition, it gives all the students a chance to have a male teacher, something many of them have never had before.
"They are a little apprehensive at first," he said. "I think it is important to have males in early education."
Rosener is not planning to forward his Teacher of the Year award paperwork to the state in order to be considered for the state award.
"I just don't have time," he said, noting the paperwork requirements for teachers has substantially increased in the last five years making.
Of the local award, Rosener is thankful.
"It is very humbling," he said. "I am only as good as the people I work with."