Kindergarten teacher’s daughter visits students on Veterans Day

Kindergartners at Park Terrace Elementary School, Spring Lake Park, had all kinds of questions for Army Sgt. Colleen Schellinger when she came to visit on Veterans Day.

The questions ranged from silly to serious. One young man wanted to know if Schellinger had played with toys when she was little. Repeatedly, Schellinger was asked if she gets to ride in a helicopter. A student asked if the Army fought all of the time.

Kindergarten teacher Mary Strohmayer invited Schellinger, her daughter, to address her class and three other kindergarten sections at Park Terrace Monday.

Schellinger told the students about when she was deployed and received notes from elementary students in Minnesota. Then, they created their very own thank you notes for veterans.

“Thank you for keeping us safe,” students wrote. Their leftover Halloween candy will be included in the package sent overseas.

Spending one-year in Iraq as a dog handler and 10 months in Qatar as a military police investigator, Schellinger said that she missed her family very much when she was away.

In the Army Reserve, Schellinger trains one weekend each month and for two weeks during the summer. Home in Minnesota, she is attending school to become a police officer.

One of the reasons Strohmayer invited her daughter to visit is so students could see a female military figure.

Students asked if Schellinger was the only female in the Army. When she said she wasn’t, they upped their estimate to 15, then 500.

“Thank you,” the students repeated over and over, as well as “I love you!” before Schellinger made her exit.

Park Terrace kindergartners color thank you cards for members of the military currently overseas, away from their families. Leftover Halloween candy will accompany the letters. Kindergartners bombard Sgt. Colleen Schellinger with hugs on Veterans Day. Mary Strohmayer asks her daughter Sgt. Colleen Schellinger questions about her time in the Army. Army Sgt. Colleen Schellinger visited kindergarten classes at Park Terrace Elementary School on Veterans Day, her mother Mary Strohmayer’s class among them. Photos by Olivia Koester
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Army Sgt. Colleen Schellinger visited kindergarten classes at Park Terrace Elementary School on Veterans Day, her mother Mary Strohmayer’s class among them. Photos by Olivia Koester

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]