Every year, the Earle Brown Days parade is led by a ceremonial grand marshal to officially kick the three-day celebration into gear, with the role usually filled by an individual who dedicated most or all of their lives serving the city of Brooklyn Center.
For the 2017 installment of the parade, the city selected former Brooklyn Center School District superintendent and lifelong educator Keith Lester to do the honors. Having served as superintendent from 2005 to 2013, Lester is definitely keeping busy while having plenty of Brooklyn Center credentials to his name.
“I graduated from Brooklyn Center High School,” said Lester. “I was born and raised in Minneapolis until I was in second grade, then I moved here when I was in second grade.”
Prior to serving as superintendent in Brooklyn Center, Lester was a high school vocal music teacher, principal and then a superintendent in Mora, Minnesota. After retiring in 2013, Lester nonetheless continued to work in interim administrative jobs in the educational sector.
“I spent five months in Onamia as superintendent there, then I spent 13 months working for an integration district called WMEP (West Metro Education Program),” said Lester. “I did about five months as a principal at the ALC in Osseo, and then I did five months as principal at the MTS Elementary, which is a part of the Minnesota Transitions Charter School. This week, I started working as the superintendent for that same district (for) a job-share with Denny Carlson, who retired from Anoka-Hennepin.”
Lester, who was also a former president of the Brooklyn Center Lions Club and a member of the Brooklyn Center Rotary, never felt satisfied with living a conventional life of retirement.
“I’m going to be 70 years old in December, and I’m thinking, ‘What else am I going to do?’” said Lester. “All I’ve ever done is education.”
Lester has also been spending his free time working in theater and singing in a vocal quartet that he also directs, but when he was offered the role of grand marshal more than a month ago, he admits that he couldn’t figure out why.
“That’s not false modesty, I wasn’t sure,” he said. “I was a little surprised, and certainly honored. I think back, and my parents spent most of their life in Brooklyn Center, and I think, they’d probably like to know that their son was the grand marshal of Brooklyn Center for a day.”
Contact Christiaan Tarbox at [email protected]