Dawn Olson, Independent Living Specialist
When it came time for me to begin school as a young child, my parents were advised to send me to the Anne Carlsen School in Jamestown. At this time in history this was the best option available to my parents if they wanted me to get an education. In one of the first conversations my parents had with Dr. Anne Carlsen, they happened to mention that I was extremely stubborn and “bullheaded” to which she replied, “She is not stubborn or bullheaded she is determined. There is a difference and she is going to need that someday.” I will be forever grateful for this comment from Dr. Carlsen. Let me tell you a little more about her.
Anne Carlsen was born without forearms or lower legs however she refused to let her physical disability prevent her from living life to its fullest. The following is a timeline of other key events and milestones that took place in her life.
1946: Earned her master’s degree in education from Colorado State University in Greeley.
1948: Was named the school principal for the Anne Carlsen School.
1949: Completed the doctoral program at the University of Minnesota and was named child guidance director of the School.
1950: Named superintendent of the school.
1958: Received the President’s Trophy as Handicapped American of the Year. The award was given annually to the person who has helped to advance the cause of the employment of the physically disabled.
1966: North Dakota Governor William Guy honored her with North Dakota’s highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award. The award is given to persons who have brought credit to the state by achieving national recognition in their fields of endeavor.
1975: Inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame at Fullerton (Calif.) College.
I am grateful to Anne Carlsen and the words of encouragement she gave to my parents so many years ago. She lived a full life and had many accomplishments. What an example of self-determination she set for me and many others with disabilities.