Even in drivers education, Coach Gilbertson found new ways to motivate students

Mr. Gilbertson was well-known to innovate from the conventional in order to provide an opportuity for his students to improve their performance. Here is a story about Mr. Gilbertson innovating in the classroom as a young teacher.

Keith Gilbertson was my driving instructor when I was a junior in Snohomish High School.  We drove new Ford straight stick sedans from Bickford Ford equipped with an additional brake pedal on the instructor’s side (where the front seat passenger normally sits).  As a final test of our skills and coordination Mr. Gilbertson would use an empty milk bottle sitting on the floor between his feet — to make the test more difficult, he would invert the bottle and stand it with the narrow opening down.  In those days there was no automatic transmission and we had to demonstrate smooth shifting with a clutch in the standard 3 gear transmission.  When we could drive the course without tipping the milk bottle over while accelerating, turning corners, and stopping, we were considered “quite proficient”!

Eldon E. Bell, M.D., M.P.H., SHS ’52
Minister Counselor, United States Department of State (retired)

Editors note: Mr. Bell is a SHS Hall of Fame honoree for his 10-years as an Air Force Flight Surgeon (including membership on the medical team working with our nation’s first astronauts), 15 years as a rural country doctor in South Dakota, 14 years with the Department of State, and finally for his role returning to Active Duty at age 70 to serve his country in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Click here to see a photo of the SHS Hall of Fame.

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