For 34 years, she inspired students at Rockford High School to unleash their imaginations.
Carole Osborne knew how to get her students to do their very best work.
For 34 years she taught English to students at Rockford High School on the western edge of the Twin Cities area.
Her method was simple and uncompromising: Ask kids for their best.
Osborne, of St. Louis Park, died at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale of a heart attack on April 12. She was 62.
"The thing she gave me all the time was never let them believe they can't do it. As high as we set the bar, that's what they're going to do," said Julie Merila, an English teacher Osborne mentored during the younger teacher's first year at Rockford. "I've found that's true every day of my teaching career."
The daughter of an insurance vice president and an executive secretary, she grew up in Edina and was the elder of two girls.
After graduating from Edina High School in 1965, she attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. On a trip to California with a friend, she met the man who would become her husband, Nickolas Osborne.
Carole Osborne returned to Minnesota and finished college at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus.
After graduation, she considered more lucrative careers, but ultimately felt drawn to teaching, her husband said.
"She wanted more out of life than just dollars and cents," he said.
At Rockford High, Osborne helped put on the school's first musical and started two popular elective courses -- Creative Writing and Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature.
She also introduced many students to one of her favorite authors, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merila said. "Before 'Lord of the Rings' became what it is now, before the movies, she was into it. She got a ton of kids to read the roughly 1,400 pages of that series."
For years Osborne headed the school's English department, but it was in her classroom where she made English vibrant.
"She was incredibly creative and inspired kids, day in and day out," Merila said. "She would give them some crazy, off-the-wall topic like: 'You're a living pickle -- describe your life,' and her kids turned out things that turned out to be amazing pieces."
Her efforts were recognized by the Rockford School District, which named her "Teacher of the Year," her husband said.
Osborne retired at the end of the 2004-05 school year.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by a sister, Janet Ochman, of Roseville.
A memorial gathering will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday in Washburn-McReavy's Edina chapel, W. 50th and Hwy. 100.
Allie Shah • 612-673-4488