Ambar Hanson

Chief External Relations Officer | 612-239-1893 | @AmbarHanson

Favorite hobby: Dancing with my partner and kids

Ambar Cristina Hanson, M.P.A., is the director of community engagement at Hiawatha Academies. Since moving to the United States from the Dominican Republic eighteen years ago, Ambar has been dedicated to advocating for immigrant communities and communities of color to have equal opportunity and access to higher education, jobs that provide livable wages, health, housing and safety. Over the past ten years, Ambar advocated for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors through several roles at Casa de Esperanza and National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities. Currently, Ambar oversees the recruitment, marketing, parent engagement and community collaborations for the Hiawatha Academies network. Recently, Ambar received the Mano Amiga Award from the Minnesota Latino Economic Development Center for her commitment and generous contribution of time and work in behalf of the Latino community.
She lives in St. Paul and enjoys spending time with partner and two children.

Dawn Gunderson Taylor

Chief Talent Officer | 612-998-6015

Favorite book: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Favorite hobby: Traveling to destinations near and far

Dawn Gunderson Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia where she taught English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to tenth grade students and a 2001 Teach For America corps member. She taught high school English for six years in Baltimore, MD, and returned overseas to continue teaching in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2008, Dawn joined the staff of Teach For America where her work focused on alumni affairs for over seven years. Dawn returned to the Midwest in the summer of 2014 and joined Hiawatha Academies as Chief Talent Officer.
Dawn's daughter, Neela, is a student at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop.

Eli Kramer

Executive Director | 612-581-7750 | @Eli_Kramer_

Favorite book: The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
Favorite hobby: Board games with my daughters

Eli Kramer has been the Executive Director of Hiawatha Academies since 2012. Before joining Hiawatha, Eli was a founding Dean of Curriculum and Instruction with Uncommon Schools in New York. Prior to that, he taught for six years in New York City at the elementary and middle school level. Eli was a 2003 Teach for America corps member in the Bronx, NY. He holds a B.A. in government from Harvard, a Master's in Education from Bank Street College, and a Master's in Educational Leadership from Brooklyn College.
Eli grew up in Minneapolis and is happy to be home.

Rochelle Van Dijk

Chief Academic Officer

Rochelle Van Dijk is a proud African-American and Cherokee educator and mother of three. Rochelle graduated from Harvard University in 2005 with a degree in psychology and earned her Master's in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado. She joined the '05 Teach For America corps and taught science in the Rio Grande Valley. In 2011 she founded the top performing high school in Denver: Denver School of Science and Technology in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood. Each of the students in her founding class was accepted to a 4-year college, 80% of which were first generation college-students and over 75% qualified for free-and-reduced lunch. Rochelle went on to become Chief of Schools for Denver Schools of Science and Technology and oversee 4500 students across 12 schools. Rochelle now serves students and families in South Minneapolis as the Chief Academic Officer at Hiawatha Academies.

Sara Boedecker-Johnston

Senior Director of Program | 612-385-6388

Sara Boedecker-Johnston is the Senior Director of Program at Hiawatha Academies. Prior to joining Hiawatha, Sara worked for ten years as a teacher and principal at a Lutheran Pre-kingergarten through eighth grade school on the south side of Chicago. Sara grew up in Michigan and attended Valparaiso University, where she completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology and Masters of Education degree.
Living in Minnesota brings Sara closer to lakes, trees, and her husband's family, all of which make her happy. Sara loves fonts, succulents, cooking and eating interesting food (especially pie) and wiener dogs (especially hers, named Ole).

Sean Elder

Chief Operating Officer | 612-251-3139

Favorite hobby: Backpacking and Camping

Sean Elder has been the Chief Operating Officer of Hiawatha Academies since May 2011. Before joining Hiawatha, Sean was an Area Manager for Skyhawks Sports Academy, the nation’s largest provider of youth sports programs and served several years as an Undergraduate Admissions Counselor at the University of Minnesota. Sean was also a 2010 Chicago Cohort Fellow with Education Pioneers. An active community member, Sean currently sits on the Education and Jobs Committee for the Greater Twin Cities United Way. He holds a B.A. in Sociology - Law, Criminology, and Deviance from the University of Minnesota and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas.

Stephen Courchane

Senior Director of Operations | 612-272-3665

Favorite hobby: Running

Stephen Courchane is a homegrown Minnesotan, serving as the Senior Director of Operations for Hiawatha Academies. Prior to joining Hiawatha Academies in 2012, Stephen taught third grade in Jacksonville, FL, and worked as a School Operations Manager at Teach For America's 2011 Summer Institute. Stephen earned his B.A. in English at the University of Minnesota and is currently completing his M.B.A. at the University of St. Thomas.
Stephen loves all things outdoors, including geocaching with his wife (Kate) and running any chance he can get!

Abdifatah Ahmed

Enrollment & Admissions Manager | 612-559-5918

Alex Gallagher

Director of Student Support Services | 715-491-2135

Favorite book: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Favorite hobby: Disc Golfing

Alex hails from northern Wisconsin and is a proud alumnus of the University of Wisconsin. Alex got his start in education teaching Special Education in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Over the last five years, Alex has worked as a school and network administrator in New Orleans and Connecticut. Alex also received his masters degree in school leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University. Alex is passionate about developing strong teaching which supports ALL students to achieve academically.

Andrew Paulson

School Psychologist

AnnaKristina Yesberger

Due Process Coordinator

Brittany Porrazzo

Data Manager | 612-578-3765

Favorite book: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Favorite hobby: Running

Brittany Porrazzo is the Data Coordinator for Hiawatha Academies. Brittany grew up in Madison, WI and graduated in 2014 from Vanderbilt University where she studied Mathematics and Philosophy. After graduating, she spent a year volunteering for multiple organizations in the Twin Cities. Brittany loves working with youth and has mentored kids through Habitat for Humanity and Free Arts Minnesota. Outside of work, Brittany loves to run, make things with her hands, and explore the outdoors.

Carrie Roby

Network Literacy Coordinator | 612-236-6596

I am originally from Duluth, MN. I lived in New York City, NY for eleven years after graduating from college. I started in education as a Teach for America corps member, teaching second and third grades. I then joined Success Academy Charter Schools as a teacher and then founding elementary school principal. After moving to Minneapolis, I worked as a Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) math consultant before joining Hiawatha Academies as a network literacy coordinator. I enjoy partnering with teachers and school leaders to innovate the best ways to develop our students as close and critical readers.

Conor Leonard

Development Manager

Edwin Ochoa

Director of Human Resources | 612-250-1324

Favorite book: The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Favorite hobby: Running

Edwin began his career in the classroom as a Teach for America corps member in Donna, TX. After teaching 5th grade math, Edwin moved into an HR role for a private consulting firm in Austin, TX. Since 2015, Edwin and his partner have called south Minneapolis home. As Director of Human Resources, making connections with people and supporting efforts to bring more teachers of color into the classroom are favorite aspects of the role. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, with a bachelor's degree in Economics from Southern Methodist University.

Heather Busch

Network Literacy Coordinator | 612-310-0250

Favorite book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Favorite hobby: Playing with my two children!

I have experience as a middle and high school teacher in public and charter schools in Arizona, Texas, and here in Minnesota, and have been a literacy coordinator for Hiawatha for four years. With each year of experience, I understand more deeply the power of literacy and how as educators, it is essential that we empower students to both deconstruct and reconstruct meaning about the things that matter in their lives today.

Irma Márquez Trapero

Director of Talent Recruitment | 612-237-7636

Favorite book: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Favorite hobby: Dance is the hidden language of the soul

Irma was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, and moved to St. James, MN, with her family in 1999. She obtained her bachelor's degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in Political Science. After graduation, she was able to qualify for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and worked as a paralegal for an employee rights law firm and an immigration law firm before joining the Hiawatha Academies team in 2014.
As the Director of Talent Recruitment, Irma ensures that Hiawatha Academies consistently and efficiently sources and recruits equity driven teachers and education leaders. In addition, Irma serves as an equity co-organizer for the Network Support Team at Hiawatha, which leads the networks' equity work group.
Lastly, being a Queer Latinx has shaped her life to become an advocate for mujer, queer, and immigrant rights = human rights. Irma currently serves on the board of directors of NAVIGATE MN, is the policy committee chair of Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM), and is a 2016 Policy Fellow Alum from the University of Minnesota.

Jaquie Archer

Network Assessment Coordinator | 612-578-9326

Favorite book: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Favorite hobby: Architecture/Design

Jaquie Archer is a Chicago native, who serves as the Network Assessment Coordinator at Hiawatha Academies. Jaquie has earned a B.A. in Communications and an M.A. in Cultural Communication from Bethel University and the +University of Wisconsin. Before returning to Minnesota, Jaquie taught elementary and middle school Math in Cleveland, OH. In 2011, Jaquie joined the Peace Learning Center where she had the opportunity to coach interpersonal communication, advocate for silenced peoples, mediate, and educate children in restorative conflict practices. Jaquie currently acts as Board Vice President at Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church. Jaquie loves architecture, reading, traveling, trivia, tattoos, and family. She and her wife live in South Minneapolis.

Libby Stegger

Director of Development | 612-388-3259 | @libbystegger

Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favorite hobby: Singing in the car

Libby Stegger is the Director of Development of Hiawatha Academies. Prior to joining Hiawatha, Libby was Senior Manager at Hunger-Free Minnesota, overseeing a $1.5 million child hunger investment portfolio, strategy development, and partnership development. Libby previously served as a nonprofit strategy consultant for Community Wealth Partners and in program development at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Davidson College and an M.B.A. from Yale University.

Lisa Sass Zaragoza

Liz Pangerl

Director Marketing and Communications | 612-695-5467

Favorite book: The Zen of Oz by Joey Green
Favorite hobby: Paging through vintage photography books, studying modern design and branding books and getting inspired by the latest retail and fashion trends.

Originally from Southern California, I relocated to Minneapolis for the second time in 1992. Shortly thereafter I was hired by the Martin Williams Advertising agency to focus on their fastest growing client at the time, Target, along with several other retail clients. I was the first Latina Creative Supervisor at the agency and instrumental in bringing a diverse and strategic voice to the table. Post Martin Williams, I worked in various capacities within the corporate sector and also built a solid reputation in the community for my multicultural branding of several non-profit organizations in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
As the director of marketing and communications, my role continues to build on a strategic vision to broaden the reach, influence and awareness of the Hiawatha Academies award-winning network of schools. It's a joy to collaborate with colleagues who are leading the way with innovative educational initiatives.

Madison McConnell

Marketing and Social Media Coordinator

Mario Marino

Nicole Dummann

School Health Coordinator

Rosie Kellogg

Operations Manager | 507-269-1394

Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favorite hobby: Being outside

I am originally from Rochester, MN. After moving to Wisconsin for college at University of Wisconsin-Madison where I studied business and educational policy, I lived in Sacramento, CA where I taught ninth grade Algebra and Geometry through Teach For America. I moved back to Minnesota where I taught ninth grade math at Hiawatha Collegiate High School for a year before transitioning to the Hiawatha Academies Network Support Team (NST). I feel incredibly fortunate to work every day with people striving to make the world a better place.

Shannon Gavin

Family Engagement Manager | 612-578-5198

Favorite book: Old Turtle and the Broken Truth by Douglas Wood
Favorite hobby: Traveling - preferably to an Arabic or Spanish-speaking country

As the Family Engagement Manager for Hiawatha Academies, Shannon is thrilled to be joining a community so grounded in social justice. Shannon has worked in the field of education in Minneapolis and abroad, leading literacy assessments in Yemen and technology-based education projects in Palestine. She speaks Arabic and Spanish, earned her B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and Latin American Studies from Brown University and her Master’s in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Shannon is from a big, close-knit family and spends much of her free time hanging out with her siblings, cousins and mom.

Sherene Judah

Principal | Hiawatha College Prep - Northrop

Ted Dohm

Director of Enrollment and Admissions

Tiffany Williams-Virden

Director of Talent Recruitment

Favorite book: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Favorite hobby: Interior design

Tiffany is from Tempe, AZ where the scorching summers taught her to appreciate Minnesota winters. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where she majored in American Studies and Comparative Racial and Ethnic Studies. She is currently completing a Master's degree in Organizational Leadership at St. Catherine University. Professionally, Tiffany has worked for a global talent management firm, Korn Ferry International, working to help clients meet their talent recruitment and leadership development needs. Tiffany loves old school R&B, good food and drinks, and long naps. She lives in North Minneapolis with her husband, daughter and two dogs.

Vanessa Palmer

Senior Director of Data and Analytics | 612-385-8373

Favorite book: Dune by Frank Herbert; The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Favorite hobby: Travel, reading, travel reading

As Director of Data & Analytics, Vanessa helps Hiawatha Academies measure, reflect, and grow as we support our scholars' journey to college readiness. Vanessa previously taught high school chemistry and health in Baltimore and middle school science in Houston. Before and since her time in the classroom, she has worked as an adventuring researcher in education, bioanalytical chemistry, epidemiology, and Antarctic glaciology. Vanessa earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Washington and an ScM from the Harvard School of Public Health. She hails from the great state of North Dakota and enjoys science museums, travel, being outside, and exploring the Twin Cities.

Alex Trevino

Assistant Principal | 612-384-1762

Alex Trevino is an Assistant Principal at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park. Previously, Mr. Alex taught fourth grade. Before coming to Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park, Alex taught fourth and sixth grades in north Minneapolis as a Teach For America corps member. Alex enjoys working with all students, families, and teachers to make Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park a place where everyone feels welcomed, affirmed, and supported in reaching their hopes and dreams.

Amanda Underwood

Specialist Teacher | 612-396-8258

Amanda Underwood is the Music Specialist at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Music Education from St. Olaf College in Northfield MN. Amanda believes that music education can open doors for students of all ages, and is excited to share her love of music with the scholars at the Morris Park campus. She also teaches Early Childhood Music classes at MacPhail Center for Music, and Improv classes for youth and adults at the Brave New Workshop Student Union. 

Angie Pfeffer

Second Grade Teacher | 612-490-4546 | @msangieteaches

Favorite hobby: Baking

Angie Pfeffer was born and raised in Appleton, WI. She studied Elementary education with a focus on English, language arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Angie has lived in Minneapolis for five years. Since she has been in Minneapolis she worked as a teaching fellow at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park and taught second grade in North Minneapolis. She is very excited to continue working with the Hiawatha team and family!
Angie loves baking, making arts and crafts and spending time outside!

Anna Dibley

Fourth Grade Teacher - Reading, Writing, Social Studies | 612-306-2988

Anna Dibley is a proud Minnesotan and a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in History. Anna taught social studies for five years in South Dakota, nonfiction for two years back home in Minneapolis, and is excited to continuing working with the fourth grade team at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park this year!
In addition to teaching, Anna enjoys reading and camping.  

Ariana Tellez

Bryan Daly

Special Educator Teacher | 612-730-7634

Favorite book: Ulysses by James Joyce
Favorite hobby: Playing Guitar

I was born in Florence, MA, and moved to South Minneapolis six years ago. I've worked as an art instructor, a Pre-kindergarten teacher, and now as a Special Educator Teacher. I work primarily with third and fourth grade scholars.
I teach because children can be the funniest, kindest, and most hardworking people I know. It's an honor to spend time with them, and to do my best to help them find what they need.

Carmen Alvarado

Cafeteria Staff

Carter Haaland

Kindergarten Teacher | 612-310-0437

Favorite book: The Tenth of December by George Saunders
Favorite hobby: Biking

Carter Haaland studied English Literature and Journalism at the University of Minnesota. He's currently pursuing his Master's of Teaching English as a Second Language from Hamline University.
In his free time he likes to ride around aimlessly on his bicycle.

Catherine Chu-Lapiska

Principal | Hiawatha Leadership Academy - Morris Park | 612-408-3379

Born and raised in Minnesota, Catherine is thrilled to return home and join the Hiawatha team after a spell on the East Coast.  Catherine earned her undergrad at The University of William & Mary in Virginia, and her M.A.T. at American University.  She is a Teach for America alum and taught first through fifth grades in Washington, DC.  Catherine also enjoyed several years of teaching teachers at Relay Graduate School of Education in New York City.  Catherine is excited to be a part of the Hiawatha team supporting students, families and teachers in achieving and exceeding their goals.

Charlotte Carlsen

Fourth Grade Math and Science Teacher | 612-490-5652

Charlotte Carlsen was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She is a graduate of Bowdoin College in Maine. During college, she studied abroad in Mexico and volunteered with a non-profit in Guatemala. In 2006, Charlotte ventured to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to begin a career in education. Over the last seven years in Texas, she has taught Five District math curriculum. She is excited to be back in Minnesota working with the Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park campus.
Charlotte is also an enthusiastic skier and can’'t wait for the snow to start falling this winter.

Clare Dudzinski

School Social Worker | 651-558-7472

Favorite book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein; Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery; and The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater
Favorite hobby: Learning anything you want to teach me!

Clare Dudzinski is thrilled to be joining the Hiawatha Academies family this year as the school social worker at the Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park campus. Clare is originally from the Chicagoland area, but she has made Minnesota her home for the last nine years. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from St. Olaf College and her Master of Social Work from the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University.
In her spare time, Clare enjoys running, yoga, and inventing new recipes to try out with family and friends. Her personal passions are travel and learning about new people, languages, and cultures.

Crystal Daugherty

Third Grade Math Teacher

Daeja Carson

Third Grade Teacher

Devyn Pittorf

Kindergarten Teacher | 612-385-8784

Devyn Pittorf teaches kindergarten at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park. Devyn was born and raised in Minnesota. She spent the last year in Chicago and is so excited to be back in her home state working with the scholars and teachers at Hiawatha Academies. Devyn graduated from Augsburg College with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education in 2012. She now lives in Minneapolis with her two cats.
In her spare time she loves to read, cook, and practice yoga. 

Diane Coddington

Reading Corps Tutor

Emily Curtis

Second and Third Grade English Language Development Teacher | 612-558-6180

Favorite hobby: Reading, tennis

Emily Curtis grew up in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Her first teaching position was in Kingman, AZ, and she then taught for two years in Colorado Springs, CO. She is passionate about English Language Development and is so excited to be back home and teaching in the Midwest!

Erin Chambers

First Grade Teacher

Erin Matschiner

Third Grade Teacher | 612-578-5214

Favorite book: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Favorite hobby: Reading

I was born and raised here in Minnesota, where I also attended college to receive my Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees and am currently pursuing a K-12 principal's license. This is my twelfth year of teaching. The past eleven years of my career were spent teaching at a charter school in Apple Valley. What I value most about my experience at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park are the opportunities I have to grow and develop as an educator, leader, and person.

Guadalupe Andrade

Haven Davis

Paraprofessional | 612-998-2458

Favorite book: Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Favorite hobby: Reading

I grew up in northern Minnesota, and went to college at Gustavus Adolphus for English and Environmental Studies. I worked as an Environmental Educator for several years before deciding to explore employment in schools. That was when I found my way to Hiawatha Academies and have been very happy to feel right at home. My favorite aspects of my role are getting to work closely with a motivated and passionate team and building strong relationships with scholars.

Jed Hermes

Paraprofessional | 651-558-7478

Favorite book: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
Favorite hobby: Running / Cooking / Reading (not all at the same time)

Jed Hermes grew up in Yardley, PA with his three sisters and two brothers. He graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a B.A. in Literature and Gender Studies. He moved to the Twin Cities in 2008 and worked in retail, paying off student debt, before joining the Hiawatha Academies team in April of 2016. His favorite part of being a paraprofessional is cultivating calm; our scholars are such emotive and intuitive people, and Jed loves helping them find, grow, and practice their best selves.

Jess Cain

Kindergarten Teacher

Jordan Fitch

Physical Education Teacher | 612-490-7102

Jordan Fitch is the Physical Education specialist at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-—Morris Park. Though born in Kentucky, Jordan spent most of his growing up years in Illinois. He attended Bethel University in St. Paul, MN and graduated in 2006 with a B.A. in kindergarten through twelfth grade physical education. Since then, Jordan has lived in Minneapolis teaching physical education at a Montessori school. This is Jordan’'s second year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-—Morris Park.
He is married to his best friend and has one daughter. In his free time, Jordan is often spending time with his family, stumbling through home improvement projects, or playing whatever sport is in season.

Jordan McNiven

Fourth Grade Teacher

Justine Selsing

First Grade Teacher

Kari Kielsa

Special Education Teacher | 612-296-5335

Kate Vishneski

First Grade Teacher | 612-220-7550

Favorite book: Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

Kate Maynor is a first grade teacher at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Kate earned her B.A. at Beloit College in Beloit, WI. She majored in both elementary education and music with a focus in French. After her student teaching in Chicago, IL and interning at Pierre Bottineau French Immersion in North Minneapolis, Kate was very excited to join Hiawatha Academies and work in a setting where student excellence is the top priority.
When she isn't in the classroom, Kate enjoys making music and playing fetch with her cat, Dexter.

Kelley Forsberg

Second Grade Teacher | 952-457-9161

A native of Minnesota, Kelley earned her B.A. in History and Elementary Education from Gordon College in 2010. She worked as a partner teacher in a first grade classroom for a year in Lynn, MA. Ms. Kelley couldn't stay away from her home state too long, she moved back and worked as a paraprofessional at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park six years ago and as a second grade teacher for the past three years. She is grateful and excited to be in her fourth year of teaching second grade at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park!
On her free time, you can find her lying out by one of the 10,000 lakes, taking her puppy on a walk, or shopping at the mall!

Laura Harringa

Third Grade Teacher | 612-387-0478

Favorite book: Anything by Leo Lionni
Favorite hobby: Reading and writing and talking about good movies and television.

Laura grew up in middle of nowhere northern Iowa. She then headed to Yale and focused on developmental psychology. After college, she moved to St. Louis, taught Kindergarten, first, second, and third grades, seeking to create a holistic, responsive learning environment for all students and families. She then moved on to continue learning in a leadership certification and Ph.D. program at UW-Madison. Her dissertation focused on community schools and the fostering of social capital for students and families. After completion, Laura transitioned to Minneapolis, where she helped found a new charter school. She is eager to continue working with students and families to create a more equitable, supportive culture for everyone at Hiawatha Academies.

Linde Grubb

Director of Operations | Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park | 612-743-9816

Favorite book: The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the search for meaning by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham
Favorite hobby: Cooking

After working for operations teams in higher education and non-profit companies in Virginia, Linde Grubb relocated to Minnesota to become the Director of Operations at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park. She joins the team with a degree in Biomedical Ethics from the University of Virginia and a Master’s in Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Having taught eighth grade science in St. Louis early in her career, Linde is thrilled to re-enter the education space and continue to interact with students and teachers.
She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Brad.

Lindsey Kane

First Grade Teacher | 612-281-7545

Lindsey Kane is teaching first grade at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park. She grew up in the Twin Cities and graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 2012 with a degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in communication arts and literature. Before teaching at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park, Lindsey taught first grade in Minneapolis.
When she isn't teaching she can be found drinking coffee at bookshops or outside enjoying the fresh air.

Maia Horsager

Specialist Teacher | 612-807-0519 | @MaiaJoH

Favorite book: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Favorite hobby: Photography

Maia Horsager is a Minnesota native currently living in Minneapolis, though she has enjoyed intermittently living in Lakeville, Minnesota, South America, and traveling the world since her graduation from St. Olaf College. Her degrees in Spanish, Children, Arts, and Society, and experience as a Pre-kindergarten and yoga teacher have prepped her for the exciting opportunity of being the Movement Specialist. Teaching yoga to students is a fun and creative role that allows her to interact with students in different ways, and truly teaches them to be themselves.

Marcela Rojas

Office Manager | 612-250-5604

Marcela Rojas is the Office Manager at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park. Originally from Santiago, Chile, Ms. Marcela holds a Law degree from the University of Chile, and comes to Hiawatha Academies with over twenty years of experience working in Education. She is passionate about helping children and their families to achieve their greatest potential, academic and otherwise, in a community of high expectations such as Hiawatha Academies. She is also committed to working with the scholar's families, many times acting as a “cultural bridge” between immigrant families and the school.
When she is not working, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

Maren Daniels

Marisol Rojas

Fourth Grade Teacher

Maureen Fink

English Language Development Teacher | 612-281-1383

Favorite book: Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle (one of many!)
Favorite hobby: Reading!

Maureen Fink is from St. Paul, MN and graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 2014 with degrees in English and Philosophy. She worked for a year at Faribault Public Schools on after-school programming before becoming an English Language Development teacher at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park. The best part of her role is getting to know her students and seeing how much they grow over the course of a year!

Maya Soriano

Miguel Peña

Nancy Marin

Office Assistant | 612-388-1842

Favorite book: One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss.
Favorite hobby: Listen to music, shoping, fishing, movies, sports

Nancy Marin is new to Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park and is thrilled to be part of the Hiawatha team! Nancy was born in Ecuador and came to the United States when she was eight years old and has lived in Minnesota ever since. Previous to Hiawatha Academies, Nancy worked for an immigration law office for six years. She is fluent in English and Spanish.

Rachel Peulen

Special Education Coordinator

Sarai Anderson

Transportation Coordinator | 612-237-0920

Favorite book: Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
Favorite hobby: Baking

I grew up in Monterrey Mexico and graduated with a Law Degree specializing in Corporate Law at the University of Nuevo Leon in 2011. I got married and came to the United States the same year. I have been an interpreter and translator over the last few years and also work in the children's ministry at my church.
I live in Apple Valley with my husband, my beautiful two year old daughter, my four month old baby and my dog Rocket. I love to bake, spend quality time with my family and playing soccer in my free time.

Shae Elliot

Special Education Teacher

Stephanie Sowma

Special Education Teacher | 612-695-0013

Stephanie Sowma is a third and fourth grade Special Education Teacher at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park. She grew up in Kenosha, WI and graduated from University of Wisconsin - Parkside in 2011 with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies. Stephanie is currently earning a Master of Arts in Teaching from Hamline University. Before teaching at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park, Stephanie taught sixth grade students in Milwaukee, WI and worked as a Tutoring Coordinator in Saint Paul, MN.
Outside of education, she enjoys cooking, team trivia, live music, and Brewers games! Stephanie is excited to begin her third year as part of Hiawatha Academies team, and awaits challenging and growing with her students.

Veronica Myers

Yolanda Pruitt

Special Education Paraprofessional

Allison Stasson

First Grade Teacher | 612-42401720

Allison is eager to begin her first year here at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop! Allison was born and raised in the Twin Cities area. She is a graduate of Bethel University, where she studied Elementary Education with a Spanish minor. After graduating, Allison taught at an international school in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for two years.

Through her experiences in college and abroad, Allison has developed a passion for social justice. She is excited to be part of a community that not only develops students academically, but also strives to build their character.

Outside of school, Allison enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, practicing yoga, and visiting local coffee shops.

Ally Stephens

Second Grade English Language Development Teacher | 612-968-8022

Ally Stephens was born and raised in the Twin Cities area. She grew up in Golden Valley with her parents and younger sister. She attended Saint Mary’s University and graduated with a human services degree. After college, Ally moved to Thailand and taught English to eighth and tenth grade students. She has over fifteen years of experience working with children from six weeks of age up to sixteen years of age. In Thailand, Ally found her passion in teaching students English Language Development skills. She attended Saint Mary’s University-Minneapolis campus and recently completed a master's degree in English as a Second Language (ESL).

In her free time, Ally likes to spend time with her family and friends, going for walks, traveling, reading, and learning. This is her second year as a Narwhal and she is looking forward to another wonderful school year!

Amanda Snyder

Specialist Teacher | 612-388-6671

Amanda Snyder was born and raised in South Minneapolis. She graduated from Bethel University with a degree in K-12 Music Education. Before joining Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop, Ms. Amanda taught K-8 General Music for two years at a charter school in North Minneapolis. This will be her fifth year teaching music, and third year at HLA-Northrop!

Ms. Amanda loves to sing and perform. Her favorite styles of music are Jazz and Gospel. Besides music, Ms. Amanda loves to read, cook, and travel.

Aubrey Hendry Noonan-

Kindergarten Teacher | 612-387-2651

Aubrey will be beginning her second year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop teaching Kindergarten. In 2010, Aubrey majored in art at Hamline University but after graduating, worked in a prekindergarten classroom as a Minnesota Corps Tutor. That experience sparked her love for teaching early childhood and reading, so she returned to school. Aubrey received her teaching license in 2014 from Augsburg College and this will be her fourth year teaching in early childhood.

Aubrey will be presenting for a second time this year at the National Council for Teachers of English with a group of teaching colleagues from Augsburg College, where she is currently pursuing her Masters in Education.

In her spare time, she likes to play with her ferocious cat Gilly, play volleyball, and enjoy delicious foods.

Bailey Marmesh

Paraprofessional | 612-267-2144

Bailey is starting her third year as a paraprofessional at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Bailey has been working with youth in schools and in the community for the past six years. She graduated from University of Wisconsin - La Crosse with a degree in Sociology and Women & Gender Studies. She is currently in graduate school at St. Mary’s University studying Marriage and Family Therapy. Her hopes and dreams are to continue working with youth in a therapeutic setting within schools!

Outside of work and school, Bailey loves to read, spend time with family and friends, go for long walks and hang out with her two cats!

Bobbi Pratt


Bobbi is a paraprofessional at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop serving first grade students. She has been working in education over the past four years. She is also finishing up her bachelor's degree in Urban education at Metro State University.

Bobbi was born and raised in North Minneapolis where she finds her passion in working with students in urban communities. Her objective is to give back in the most positive way she can through education.

She is a new mom to a baby boy named Greyson Nehemiah Fields and loves to spend as much of her free time with him. She also enjoys hanging out with her family and friends creating memories. In her alone/down time she likes watching movies and netflix.

Charise Powell

Fourth Grade Teacher | 612-578-0112

Chris Vaughan

English Language Development Coordinator | 413-281-1268

Favorite book: Nonfiction: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. Fiction: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Favorite hobby: Poetry or sports

Chris Vaughan is entering his fifth year at Hiawatha Academies as an English Language Development teacher, and is excited to be joining the Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop team beginning this year. Chris grew up in Western Massachusetts as the son of two educators. He graduated from Stanford University in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and a Minor in Spanish, and was a core member of a student activist group that fought for campus labor rights. Chris is passionate about working with families, students, and fellow teachers to help create environments in which English Learners can thrive and achieve their dreams. In his spare time, Chris enjoys hanging out with his partner, Victoria, playing various sports, and writing poetry.

Daniela Srini Vasan

Principal | Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop | 612-462-2369

Daniela Srini Vasan is the founding principal of Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Daniela speaks Spanish and French. She attended the University of Virginia and earned her Master's Degree in Education from Georgia State University. After graduating, she served as a Teach For America corps member in Atlanta, Georgia where she taught third and fifth grade. Daniela loves to spend time with her family, travel and experience new cultures, study languages, volunteer in the community, and explore the Twin Cities. One of the best parts about working at Hiawatha Academies is working with families and students every day.

Diana Agudo

Office Assistant | 612-743-5825

Diana is excited to be part of Hiawatha Leadership Academies-Northrop! She was born in Ecuador. She attended Roosevelt High School and is planning on attending Minneapolis Minneapolis Community & Technical College. Diana enjoys traveling, learning about new cultures and tasting just about every type of food. She loves spending time with her son and family, and staying busy with outdoor activities.

Ellen Bluhm

Special Education Teacher

Ellen is a special education teacher at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop, working with little first graders. This is Ellen's fifth year as a special education teacher and her first at HLA-Northrop. Previously she was a paraprofessional. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with her license in Early Childhood Special Education as well as a certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Ellen is excited for this new opportunity to work with scholars and their families.

Alongside teaching, Ellen dedicates herself to growing and developing inclusive and adaptive recreational opportunities for all people. She enjoys being outside, reading, and doing crafts. Ellen and her family and friends enjoy exploring the area and trying new experiences around town.

Emily Peltier

Special Education Teacher | 612-584-1739

Emily is excited to begin her first year as a Narwhal at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop! She was born and raised in Marshall, Minnesota. Emily earned her bachelor’s degrees in French and International Studies from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She enjoyed Sioux Falls so much she stayed 13 years and completed her master’s degree in teaching before returning to Minnesota.

In her spare time, Emily likes to spend time with her family at their lake cabin, hang out with her niece and nephews, read, and knit while watching baseball or hockey.

Erika Hansen

Third Grade Teacher | Work: 612-239-0827 | Personal: 815-973-6628 | @@erfranhan

Favorite book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Favorite hobby: Hot yoga

Erika was born and raised in Dixon, Illinois – a small town just 100 miles west of Chicago. She graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa in 2012 with a degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in Reading and Early Childhood. She moved to Memphis, Tennessee immediately following her college graduation to become a member of the Lasallian Association for New Catholic Educators (LANCE) program at Christian Brothers University. During LANCE she taught as the third grade teacher at De La Salle Elementary and obtained her Masters of Education with a Reading Specialist endorsement. At the end of the LANCE program in 2014, she decided that her path to educate the children of Memphis was not yet finished and continued to teach at De La Salle as the first grade teacher. A year ago, Erika made her way “up north” to Minneapolis and immediately fell in love with HLA-Northrop. Now, Erika cannot wait to begin her second year teaching third grade!

In her free time she loves to practice hot yoga, go for casual bike rides, listen to Podcasts, visit local coffee shops, and eat delicious food. Also, she loves to explore Minneapolis, which she still considers new her home, and to discover all the beauty that is has to offer.

Hannah Forster

Second Grade Teacher | 612-807-4899

Hannah joined the Narwhals as a founding second grade teacher and will be entering her third year teaching second grade at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop this year. Prior to this, Hannah taught first grade in the Mississippi Delta. She received her bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in elementary education and vocal performance, then later her master's in transformational education from Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Hannah has a passion for trauma informed teaching and enjoys spending time learning more about how to make her school and classroom a safe space for all students.

Outside of school, she spends obsessive amounts of time snuggling with her dog, in addition to reading, learning new vegetarian recipes, and listening to unsolved mystery podcasts.

Hattie Carvalho

Assistant Principal | Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop | 612-310-8025

Hattie Carvalho is the assistant principal at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Prior to this role, she was the assistant principal at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park, director of student support services, special education coordinator, and a special education teacher. Hattie was a 2007 Teach For America corps member in Eastern North Carolina where she taught middle school. She then returned to her home state of Minnesota. She is excited to continue supporting Hiawatha Academies students, teachers, and families as our scholars climb the mountain to college.

Jennifer Alfaro

Student Success Coach | 612-807-3146

Jen is super excited to be returning to Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop for a second school year and a new role. Jen graduated from Hamline University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology after which she went on to teach preschool for three years. In 2016 Jen made the decision to move on to elementary schools and began to work at HLA-Northrop as a Special Education Paraprofessional. This year Jen will be working as the Student Success Coach and can’t wait to connect with all of our scholars. Jen is Mexican and bilingual in English and Spanish.

On her free time she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and posting pictures of her cats on Instagram.

Jennifer Hernandez

Paraprofessional | 612-743-8467

Jennifer is excited to join the Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop team as a paraprofessional. She was born in El Salvador and moved to the United States when she was 14 years of age. Jennifer earned her Bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in Spanish and Latin American Studies.

While not in school, Jennifer enjoys being outdoors, spending time with family and playing with her little puppy, Storm!

Jessie Damsgard

Fourth Grade Teacher | 612-584-1497 (texts preferred)

Jessie is thrilled to be joining Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop as a part of the founding fourth grade team! A first generation college graduate, Jessie earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from Hamline University and her Bachelor of Arts in English from Metropolitan State University. She began her teaching career as a Reading Intervention Teacher for third and fifth grades before moving on to teach third grade.

Her journey into education commenced with serving three years as a literacy tutor for Minnesota Reading Corps, working with students in grades K-3. These years of Americorps service inspired her commitment to literacy education and passion to ensure all students see themselves as readers.

Jessie enjoys camping trips with her family, trips to the library with her two daughters, gardening, taking too many pictures of her dogs, and always learning new things to engage and inspire her students and grow as an educator.

Jessye Lewis

Paraprofessional | 612-432-2201

Mr. Jessye is all set to start his third year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Sociology, Youth Studies, and African-American Studies. Jessye has been working with youth in Minneapolis for the past 13 years.

He enjoys spending time with his 12 year old son, Jessye Jr. When Jessye is not working he spends a majority of his time building his non-profit organization, MPLS Flight Squad Boys Club. In his spare time Jessye coaches basketball and football at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. Growing up in South Minneapolis Jessye also attended Northrop in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Go Narwhals!!!

Jonathon Pierpont (Mr. J)

Fourth Grade Math Teacher | 612-470-4910

Jonathon is excited to be starting a new chapter in his teaching career at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. He will be encouraging and working with his fourth grade class on all of their mathematical capabilities. After Graduating from Augsburg in 2006, Mr. J has taught math to elementary, middle and high school students. He enjoys math and logic puzzles.

When not working for scholar success; he is refereeing soccer games, watching soccer or coaching soccer.

Jonny Lincoln

K-4 Physical Education Teacher | 612-743-2359

Having previously spent time working at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop, Jonny is incredibly excited to return as the new physical education teacher and being a Narwhal once again. He hails from Leeds, England but has spent the past 15 years living and working overseas as both a physical education teacher and sports coach. He hopes to bring some international flavor to his physical education lessons and provide scholars with a broad curriculum, filled with wonderful opportunities.

Outside of school, Jonny loves spending time with his family, coaching youth soccer and cheering on his favorite soccer team, Huddersfield Town.

Jordan Ebel

Second Grade Teacher | 612-584-1817

This will be Jordan’s first year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Originally from California, her family moved to Iowa at the start of her high school career. She then graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Elementary Education and endorsements in English as a Second Language (ESL), Spanish, and Reading. Her teaching career began in Marshalltown, Iowa as an ESL teacher for two years before moving up to the great state of Minnesota. She is excited to be joining the HLA-Northrop team!

Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, and exploring the many lakes in the area.

Katie Cooney

Special Education Coordinator | 612-743-8721

Katie Cooney (pronouns: she/her) is joining Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop this year as the Special Education Coordinator. Katie taught in the Mississippi Delta for five years before moving to New Orleans, LA to become a founding special education leader at a turnaround Charter Network. She designed, implemented and directed a therapeutic program for students with social, emotional and behavioral disabilities within the city. During this time, Katie received her graduate degree from Columbia University in school leadership.

Katie spent the last few years as a Director of Special Services, supporting schools in their implementation of student supports and coaching schools in their instructional and behavioral practices in Connecticut.

Katie and her daughter are excited to be back in Minnesota and near family. They have been spending lots of time with family, exploring all the amazing parks and lakes and going up to her family cabin on the weekends. She is looking forward to meeting our amazing students and families and learning and growing alongside our Narwal family!

Kayann Comeaux

Special Education Teacher

Kelly Setala*

First Grade Teacher | 612-386-7301

Favorite book: Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Favorite hobby: Running and spending time with family

Kelly is excited to begin her fourth year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop as a first grade teacher! Kelly grew up just north of Minneapolis and attended college at Minnesota State University, Mankato and earned a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Three years ago, she went returned to school to secure her Masters in Teaching and Learning, also from Mankato.

Kelly has a variety of experiences teaching not only in Minnesota but also teaching reading for two years in California. She then relocated back to Minnesota and has been at HLA-Northrop since. Kelly is passionate about helping students grow academically, mentally, and socially while at school. Her hope is that every student achieves his or her dreams!

In her spare time she enjoys working out, spending time with her family, gardening and baking yummy desserts!

Kels Bruun-Bryant

Director of Operations | Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop | 612-730-3371

Kels Bruun-Bryant (pronouns: they/them) is the Director of Operations and Co-Equity Workgroup Organizer at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Kels is also the co-founder and co-leader of the LGBTQIA Affinity Group for staff at Hiawatha Academies and the Gay-Straight Alliance at Hiawatha Collegiate High School. Kels speaks English and Spanish and they are committed to disrupting systemic inequity in Operations and continuing to shape Operations systems and processes at HLA-Northrop and Hiawatha Academies at-large that center the voices and reflect the needs of our youth and families.

Kels is a first-generation college graduate who gained access to college through a non-profit organization called College Possible that “makes college admission and success possible for low-income students.” Their experience as a queer and trans first-gen college student shaped their passion to utilize the field of education as a mechanism to ignite social change.

Prior to joining as the Director of Operations during Northrop’s third grade founding year (2016-2017), Kels taught in Atacames, Ecuador, worked for College Possible where they coached students and developed identity-based curriculum, and served as Hiawatha Academies' network Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator.

Kels has chosen to commit their life, at and outside of Hiawatha Academies, to the pursuit of racial, economic, and transgender justice through activism and advocacy. They enjoy being in queer/trans community with their chosen family, reading Critical Race Theory, creating and leading identity workshops, going to concerts, and writing poetry. Their favorite part of working at HLA-Northrop is learning from our brilliant scholars!

Kelsey Romero

Social Worker | 612-207-8811

Kelsey Romero is excited to begin her fifth year as a school social worker at Hiawatha Academies! She grew up in South Minneapolis and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work at Augsburg College. Kelsey later completed the Master of Social work program at the University of Minnesota, focusing her studies on children and families and clinical mental health. Kelsey speaks Spanish and English and is passionate about cultivating a warm, welcoming and supportive school community that is rooted in strong relationships. During her time at HLA-Northrop, Kelsey has especially enjoyed participating in the SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) program , HLA-Northrop's Equity Team and Minnesota's Neurosequential Model in Education cohort through the ChildTrauma Academy.

Outside of school, Kelsey enjoys hanging out with her family, walking around the city's gorgeous lakes, playing tennis and having backyard bonfires.

Kiah Young-Burns

Kindergarten Teacher

Kiah Young-Burns is eager to begin her first year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop as a kindergarten teacher. Kiah has worked in education in Minneapolis as part of Minnesota Reading corps and as an Associate Educator for several years and can’t wait to join the team as a teacher. Kiah is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas and of Earlham College in Indiana. While studying at Earlham, Kiah traveled to Northern Ireland to learn about conflict mediation and The Troubles at Magee University. From her experiences that these universities, she brings the belief that the purpose of education is to awaken the teacher within.

Kiah grew up in the Powderhorn neighborhood in south Minneapolis and is passionate about contributing to the community she loves. She believes that school should be a safe place for all students, where they are challenged to meet high expectations, know that their identities are valued, and have fun!

Kylie Hanschman

Spanish Language Specialist | 612-584-0897

This is Kylie’s first year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop and her first official year in the classroom. She is very eager to get to know her students, families and colleagues!

Kylie is originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She enjoys traveling and has had the opportunity to travel to five different continents, officially studying abroad on three. While abroad in Valparaíso, Chile she taught an adult basic English class, where she discovered her love for the classroom and for students. She is excited to continue using her Spanish skills while teaching K-4 Spanish this fall. Considering how integral Spanish is to not only our HLA-Northrop community, but also the Twin Cities and the greater world, Kylie looks forward to bringing a global perspective into the local sphere.

Kylie’s heart is in the classroom. She knows that children are the future of this world and is committed to not only teaching, but also growing and learning alongside her scholars. She is new to Minneapolis and St. Paul and is looking forward to getting to know the area and her new community.

Lindsey Niznik

First Grade Teacher | 612-251-9064

Favorite book: Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Lindsey is thrilled to begin her third year teaching first grade at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop! She grew up in Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities--Go Gophers! Previous to her teaching role at HLA-Northrop, Lindsey taught two years of second grade in the Mississippi Delta.

When she is not teaching in the classroom, most likely she is reading a book, traveling to new destinations, watching golf, or continuing to improve her yoga practice.

Maggie Borman

Third Grade Math Teacher and Math Coordinator | 612-296-9498

Maggie is excited to be entering her third year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop! She was born and raised in Minneapolis. She attended Boston College, where she studied sociology and education. After graduating, she was a Teach for America corps member in the Twin Cities, teaching second and third grade at Best Academy. In 2014 she returned to Boston and earned her master’s in education with a focus on instructional leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Maggie enjoys reading, sports, traveling and eating absolutely everything. She has been working very hard to remember all the Spanish she learned in college 🙂

Mandi Kangas

Special Education Teacher | 612-807-8614

Mandi joined the Narwhals last year as a Special Education Teacher and will be entering her fifth year of teaching Special Education. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Political Science and French, then later her master's in Special Education with licensures in Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Specific Learning Disabilities. Mandi has 14 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities and mental health issues. Mandi has a passion for social justice and advocating for the needs of her students.

Mandi lives in South Minneapolis with her four year old daughter named Veronica and cat named Frito. She enjoys practicing Muay Thai, coaching boxing, playing with her daughter, trying new recipes and gardening.

Maria Alvarado

Maintenance and Cafeteria Coordinator

Markanetta Smith

School Social Worker

Markanetta is honored to begin her social work career at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop as a school social worker. She was born and raised in the West Michigan area and moved to the Twin Cities in 2014.

Markanetta was a first generation college student and graduated from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and with a minor in Latin American Studies. She is currently attending the Master of Social Work Program at the University of Minnesota and will graduate in August.

Markanetta has worked in education since graduating from college and has experience in special education and working with English Language Learners of all ages. She is passionate about social justice, racial equity, working with families, and fighting to ensure that all students have the opportunity to reach their potential.

Micayla Irmiter

Specialist Teacher | 612-281-1915 (texts preferred) | @@Micayla_Irmiter

Favorite book: Beneath the Bonfire by Nikolas Butler
Favorite hobby: Drawing

Micayla(pronouns: she/her) is the Art Specialist at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. This will be Micayla’s third year in the art studio with the Narwhals! She grew up in New Ulm, Minnesota and is a graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. After graduating, Micayla served as an AmeriCorps* VISTA through the Minnesota Literacy Council in Fairmont, Minnesota.

In her free time Micayla loves to box, explore the local arts scene, go on hikes, listen to podcasts, and visit silly roadside attractions with family and friends.

Michael Seely

Paraprofessional | Mobile: 612-310-8116

This will be Michael's second year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Michael was born and raised in south Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in psychology. During college Michael enjoyed working in childcare and discovered how much joy and pride he felt in working with children. Through this discovery, Michael has finally decided to pursue his own teaching license and attends Augsburg College.

During his free time he enjoys living an active lifestyle of running and biking throughout the city. Occasionally he loves going on long walks by the beach and enjoys candlelit dinners with people he loves.

Myasia Johnson

Paraprofessional | 612-237-5593

Myasia has been working in the school system for three years now and is so ready for the new school year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Myasia is 24 years old and has a six month old baby boy named Harlem Malik Johnson, who has a ready smile and loves to play with water. Myasia is the second eldest child of four. She was born and raised in North Minneapolis. She has two nephews and one niece. She studied dance at the Hollywood Studio of Dance in Minneapolis and traveled throughout the United States to participate in dance competitions as a young girl. She is currently enrolled at Herzing University to pursue studies in Occupational Therapy.
On Myasia’s spare time she loves to write poetry and partake in arts and crafts. Her favorite hobby lately has been creating boards on Pinterest as well as discovering cool Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects. Myasia's favorite U.S. city is New Orleans. She absolutely loves Mardi Gras season and delights in New Orlean's beignets (ben-YAY), those sweet French two inch square doughnuts served at breakfast.

Natalie Ripley

Kindergarten English Language Development Teacher | 612-267-2117

Favorite book: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Favorite hobby: Reading

Natalie Ripley is entering her third year as Kindergarten English Language Development Teacher at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Natalie studied at Bethel University, which included a study abroad term in Spain and graduated in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and Spanish Education. This is Natalie’s tenth year of teaching and she has taught classroom Kindergarten, K-5 Spanish, and Kindergarten English Language Development. Natalie is currently pursuing her Master’s in Special Education at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Natalie is passionate about working with the students and families at HLA-Northrop and helping young students develop their English language skills.

Natalie enjoys traveling and has visited Ukraine, Nicaragua, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia as part of church missions. Natalie enjoys experiencing other cultures, singing, reading, and spending time with her family. She lives in Farmington with her husband, Brett, and siamese kitty, Imogene.

Natasha Villanueva

Operations Coordinator | Office: 612-455-4033 | Mobile: 612-267-2286

Favorite book: Too many to choose!
Favorite hobby: Making music

Natasha has served as the Operations Coordinator for Hiawatha Leadership Academy- Northrop during the second, third and fourth grade founding years. Natasha is bilingual in Spanish and English and enjoys continually improving attendance, transportation, communication, and facilities systems throughout the school community to ensure that scholars, families, and staff have the resources, information, and support they need to thrive.

Natasha has had a wealth of inspiration throughout her life that led her to the field of education including advocating for undocumented and documented family members as they face immigration challenges, being a first generation college student from a wealth-poor family who has always loved learning and adored the fantastic educators that have motivated her, interpreting in the community, organizing renters, and the service that has shaped her such as being an Americorps Summer Reads VISTA through the Minnesota Literacy Council in St. Paul, MN and an education sector volunteer in Peace Corps Dominican Republic.

Natasha studied professional strategic communication at the University of Minnesota--go Gophers! Natasha loves spending time outdoors, teaching herself to play guitar, and watching copious amounts of TV and movies. Natasha’s favorite part of working at HLA-Northrop is learning from and with students and creating personal relationships with members of our community – so come by our office and let's chat!

Rachel Archer

Special Education Teacher | 612-327-7823

Rachel was born and raised in South Minneapolis and attended Northrop as a student - way back in the 90s. She received her B.S.W. in Social Work and Youth Development from Bethel University. Over the past several years, Rachel has worked with children and youth in a variety settings being an advocate, mentor, case manager, and pastor. Until recently, Rachel served at Lionsgate Academy, a charter school that specializes serving scholars with Autism, ADHD & various behavioral needs. Rachel is a die hard Minnesota lover and is ecstatic to serve in the same community in which she lives! She loves art, being outside in the sun, and bonfires.

Rachel Knutowski

Kindergarten Teacher | 612-281-1391

Favorite book: The entire Dr. Seuss collection of books
Favorite hobby: Yoga

This will be Rachel’s second year as a Kindergarten teacher at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. She has lived in the Milwaukee, WI area for most of her life, her family still residing in a suburb there. About five years ago, Rachel moved to the Twin Cities and is loving it here! A few of her hobbies include cooking, yoga, running, and reading. Rachel has worked with children in many different settings. She has been a preschool teacher, working with Reading Corps and also lived and taught overseas in Southeast Asia--Thailand being her favorite place! It is Rachel’s mission to instill a love of learning in her scholars. She has a passion for social justice and helping to close the opportunity gap in our local communities.

Rachel Love

Third Grade Teacher | 612-568-5653

Rachel is delighted to begin her eighth year of teaching by joining the Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop community. She attended Cedarville University, earning a bachelor’s degree in both Early Childhood Education and Special Education in 2010. After graduating, Rachel spent five years teaching Special Education in Ohio and two years in Nairobi, Kenya serving as a Special Education Teacher and Lead Elementary Teacher. In the classroom, she is committed to presenting every scholar the opportunity to achieve by providing a safe and supportive classroom environment.

In her spare time, Rachel enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, cooking, and traveling.

Robbi Weil

Fourth Grade Teacher | 612-578-3437

Favorite book: Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress
Favorite hobby: Walking the lakes

Robbi is so grateful to begin her second year as part of Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Even after decades of work in education, Robbi is still passionate about what she does. Her response to the question “What do you teach?” has always been “Children”, a reflection of the student centered model she adheres to. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with an education degree, she spent many years teaching prekindergarten until her own three children were in elementary school. That was followed by another ten years teaching fourth grade in a private school. While earning her Masters in Teaching from the College of St Scholastica, with a focus on Diversity and Culturally Responsive Curriculum, Robbi realized that her passion for social justice would be best served working in a more diverse public setting. After several years of work in different districts, Robbi is thrilled to have found a place dedicated to putting children first and working to create a better world by disrupting inequity. She is a lifelong learner, and looks forward to what each person brings to the table.

Robbi and her husband Joe love of spending time with their family, including their 15 month old grand-daughter. In other free time she loves working with and riding her horse, kayaking with her dog, working in her gardens, and being creative in the kitchen. She and Joe love a good game of Scrabble or a walk around any of our city lakes.

Samantha Carlson

Teacher | 952-491-0242

Samantha (Sam) Carlson is so excited to be joining Hiawatha Leadership Academy-NrNorthrop’s team! She currently holds an Early Childhood Education Licensure and is in route to receive her Masters in Education by next summer! She is a mom of two, and has four four-legged friends at home as well. She loves spending time with her family, being outdoors and reading! She has previously held teaching jobs in the Lakeville and Hopkins area but is looking forward to be working in her neighborhood school! This year, she is hoping to learn alongside the Northrop community, jump into the school’s mission and support all scholars on their learning journey!

Sheila Willson

Second Grade Teacher | 612-807-4695

Favorite book: In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek, Christine Roussey (Illustrator)
Favorite hobby: Listening to music and spending time outside.

Sheila is a second grade teacher at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. Her previous teaching experience includes being a first and second grade co-teacher and a Prekindergarten teacher. Sheila was born in Virginia and has since lived in Guam, Utah, Florida, and Nevada before settling in Minnesota in 2014. Sheila graduated from Rasmussen College with a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. She is currently a graduate student at Concordia University, St. Paul pursuing her Master’s in Teaching. Sheila enjoys spending time outside, going to concerts, traveling, and reading. Teaching is Sheila’s dream career and she so enjoys working closely with her scholars every day.

Steve Watkins

Paraprofessional | 612-578-4815

Steve is excited to be entering his first full year as a paraprofessional with Hiawatha Academies! After receiving his BA in English Studies, with a minor in Writing, Steve left his home state of Illinois and moved to Portland, OR, where he spent several years working as a cook and freelance writer. Food service work was fun, but ultimately unfulfilling, and so Steve journeyed back to the Midwest with his partner, Alejandra, to focus on his original passion: teaching. He is currently enrolled in the Hamline University Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program and is focused on becoming a high school english teacher.

Though much of his spare time is dedicated to school work and warding off the attacks of his viciously lovable cat, Steve also finds time to do the other things he loves: writing short stories and poetry, painting, hiking, and playing basketball.

Tessa Buschmann

Paraprofessional | 612-250-1476

Favorite book: The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base
Favorite hobby: Painting

This will be Tessa’s second academic year at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop in a paraprofessional role. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in 2015 with degrees in Youth Studies and Spanish. Prior to joining the Special Education team at HLA-Northrop, she worked with a Minneapolis non-profit to coordinate after-school literacy programming. Her transition into a school structure last year was meaningful and has inspired her pursue a master's in Special Education with an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) certificate beginning in 2017.

Tress Ahles

Third Grade English Language Development Teacher | Mobile: 612-807-4689

Favorite book: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Favorite hobby: Reading, cooking and yoga

Tress is originally from St. Cloud, MN. She is a long time English Language Learner (ELL) specialist. After earning a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics she began her teaching career in Boston, MA, working with young students in urban neighborhoods whose parents had recently immigrated to the United States. She herself then traveled away from the U.S and taught at international schools in The Federated States of Micronesia, Japan, China, and most recently Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. She has had the privilege of working with a very diverse group of colleagues and students. The lessons she learned while living outside her home culture shaped her into the educator she is today; passionate about supporting young people in their language and literacy development.

Tress is married and has two children, Milo and Jessie. In her free time she enjoys cooking, yoga, swimming and reading.

Carlos Bedoya Ortiz

Operations Coordinator

Cristin Craig

Dean of Students | Hiawatha College Prep | 612-990-7221

Favorite book: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Favorite hobby: Sharing time with my friends and family

I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, and moved to the Twin Cities to attend college. After graduating with a B.A. in Youth Development Studies, I began working as a special education paraprofessional. I fell in love with education and quickly got my teaching license and M.A. in Education. I taught middle school and high school students with social/emotional/behavioral needs for eight years. I love being the dean of students at Hiawatha College Prep because it gives me the opportunity to meet a lot of students and help them to be successful in school.

Cruz Conejo

Specialist Teacher | 847-313-8516

Mr. Cervantes is excited to start his second year as part of the Hiawatha College Prep team as Physical Education teacher. Born and raised in San Diego, Cartago, Costa Rica, Cruz began his professional education through the Universidad Florencio del Castillo in physical education. He began coming to Minnesota to serve as summer camp staff through Concordia Language Villages from 2006 until 2011. Between 2010 and 2011, Cruz worked as a Spanish Native Assistant at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Following the experience, Cruz decided to finish his bachelor’s degree in physical education through Minnesota State University Moorhead which he earned in December of 2013. He completed his student teaching at Sunrise Park Middle School and Otter Lake Elementary school in White Bear Lake, MN. Cruz’'s passions in life are to spend time with his family, teach physical education and play, watch and coach Futbol.

Gabriela Stiteler

Eighth Grade Literature Teacher | 202-316-8271

Favorite book: Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Favorite hobby: Travelling and experiencing new things

Gabriela Stiteler is the eighth grade literature teacher at Hiawatha College Prep. She was born in Pittsburgh, but has lived in Lousiana, Texas, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Oberlin College, and her Masters' in Education from the University of Maryland. She taught at KIPP DC: Key Academy for six years before moving to South Minneapolis with her family. In her spare time, Gabi reads mystery novels, plans trips to exciting new places, and makes a mean pizza (her favorite food).

Joana Di Meglio

Fifth Grade Humanities Teacher | 612-408-9038

Favorite book: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Favorite hobby: Attending concerts

Ms. Di Meglio was born in the Philippines but lived in most regions of the United States while growing up. She moved up north to attend the University of Minnesota-Morris and earned her Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Social Sciences, and secondary social studies licensure. While in college, she worked as a mental health rehabilitation specialist and English Language Learner (ELL) tutor. She is currently in her second year as a Teach for America 2014 Twin Cities corps member.

John Kaczorek

Principal | Hiawatha College Prep | 651-341-7821 | @@JohnKaczorek

Favorite book: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
Favorite hobby: Fishing

Mr. Kaczorek was born in Milwaukee, WI, and raised in the Twin Cities. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from St. John's University and a Master's Degree in Math Education from Pace University. He began his teaching career in the Bronx, NY, teaching eighth grade math. For the next four years, Mr. Kaczorek taught fifth grade math with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) New Jersey in Newark, NJ. In 2011, he served as the founding fifth grade math teacher at Hiawatha College Prep, and transitioned into the principal role later that year. Mr. Kaczorek lives in South Minneapolis with his partner Betty and children Jon Micheal (Hiawatha Class of 2020), and Manny (Hiawatha Class of 2033).

Kelsey Uribe

Sixth Grade Literature Teacher | 612-986-3504 | @KelseyBitney

Favorite book: The Giver, a novel by Lois Lowry
Favorite hobby: Spending time with my husband and dogs, yoga, and going on walks with friends.

Ms. Uribe is in her fourth year at Hiawatha College Prep. She grew up in Shell Lake, WI, and graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010. She then taught in South Korea and Wisconsin for a year each before returning to the Twin Cities as a 2012 Teach For America corps member. Outside of teaching, she loves spending time with her husband and two dogs, singing, reading, playing board games, going on walks with friends, and mastering her next yoga move!

Laura Rodriguez

Office Manager | 612-387-7047

Laura Schilling

Fourth and Sixth Grade Math Teacher | 612-353-4324

Favorite book: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
Favorite hobby: Anything food related

Ms. Schilling joined Hiawatha Academies as the founding third grade math teacher at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park in 2010. She then went on to found fourth grade math and later sixth grade math at Hiawatha College Prep. Before joining Hiawatha Academies, Ms. Schilling taught eighth grade math in the Bronx as a '07 Teach For America corps member. She grew up in metro - Detroit and attended the University of Michigan where she studied Mechanical Engineering. She lives in south Minneapolis with her partner Derek and son Mason. When Ms. Schilling isn't with students and staff, she enjoys cooking, figure skating, and anything outdoors. She is thrilled to be part of Hiawatha Academies, especially with their focus on closing the opportunity gap.

Lindsay Johnson

Seventh and Eighth Grade Drama Teacher | 608-797-5028

Favorite book: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Favorite hobby: Game nights with family and friends, theater, and being outside!

I grew up in La Crosse, WI and earned my Bachelor's degrees in English and Spanish at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2009. I studied a semester in Ecuador, teaching English as a second language. I taught sixth grade reading and writing in New Mexico for three years with Teach for American (TFA) before relocating to Minnesota to begin working at Hiawatha College Prep in 2012. I have taught fifth grade reading, fifth grade social studies, and I currently teach seventh and eighth grade drama. I love watching kids grow as actors!

Mandy Williams

Fifth Grade Science Teacher | 651-334-0992

Favorite book: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Favorite hobby: Hiking and Canoeing

Ms. Williams grew up in Hastings, MN. She graduated from St. Mary’s University with a B.A. in Secondary English Education in 2009. After college, she joined Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta, where she taught seventh grade reading and worked on her southern drawl. She moved back to Minnesota with her partner in 2011, and lives with her many wonderful pets!

Ryane Hardy

Eighth Grade Humanities Teacher | 612-805-3399

Favorite book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Favorite hobby: Being active outside

Ms. Hardy is the eighth grade humanities teacher at Hiawatha College Prep. Ms. Hardy earned her Bachelors' degree from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. After college, she moved to McAllen, TX to teach Texas History for two years. She returned to Minnesota to complete a Masters' in Education from St. Catherine University. She now lives in Plymouth with her husband, Clint. In her spare time, she loves to be outdoors, exercise, and read.

Sarah Black

Sixth Grade Humanities Teacher | 612-655-3275

Ms. Black is the sixth grade humanities teacher at Hiawatha College Prep. She was born in Madison, WI, but considers Minnesota her home. Ms. Black earned her B.A. in History and Social Science as well as her secondary licensure for Social Studies at the University of Minnesota-Morris. After college, she joined Teach For America and moved out to New Haven, CT, where she taught high school social studies for two years.  In 2008, she and her husband moved back home where she has been teaching middle school social studies in south Minneapolis ever since.  Outside of school, Sarah loves spending time with family and friends, reading, going to museums, supporting the Minnesota Twins, camping, and doing crossword puzzles.  She is incredibly honored to be working with the amazing scholars of Hiawatha College Prep.

Tanya Wacholz

Seventh and Eighth Grade English Language Development Teacher | 612-876-1825

Favorite book: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Favorite hobby: Learning foreign languages

Ms. Wacholz is from Delano, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in History and German Studies. Ms. Wacholz speaks German, and is always seeking to learn new languages (Spanish and Chinese are what she is currently working on). After graduation, she spent the next five years in Berlin, Germany, where she worked as an english teaching assistant through the Fulbright program and took courses in education at the Freie Universität. In her current role as the English Language Development (ELD) teacher for seventh and eighth grade at Hiawatha College Prep, she loves seeing the creativity and humor of her students shine through!

Whitney McKinley

Assistant Principal | Hiawatha College Prep | 312-375-5129 | @mckinl_w

Favorite hobby: Knitting

Ms. McKinley was born and raised in south Minneapolis, and returned to the Twin Cities in 2010 after spending four years teaching in Chicago Public Schools. In her time with Hiawatha Academies, Ms. McKinley has been an English Language Development (ELD) coordinator, art teacher, and is currently one of the assistant principals at Hiawatha College Prep. She has a passion for education and social justice and enjoys watching her middle school scholars develop their personal identity and voice. In her free time she enjoys travel, exploring new communities, trying new foods, knitting, and bowling.

Amy Carlson

Special Education Teacher | 612-220-5301 | @@coach__carlson

Favorite book: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Favorite hobby: Coaching

Ms. Carlson is a founding special education teacher at Hiawatha Collegiate High School. Having grown up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, she received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota. She began her teaching career with Teach For America in lower state South Carolina where she taught high school math for two years. She says having the opportunity to work with her students - the future change-agents and leaders of tomorrow - is her favorite aspect of her role at Hiawatha Collegiate High School.

Anna Eddie

Director of Operations | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 612-281-0123

Favorite book: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Favorite hobby: Horseback Riding

Growing up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Anna left her home state to earn her B.S. in Political Science and Educational Studies at Colgate University. Her interest and passion in education reform and policy led her to Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College where she received her Masters in Public Policy with a focus on K-12 education policy. Anna worked on a federally-funded research project centered on intense math and reading interventions for struggling first graders in urban schools. She joined the Hiawatha Academies' team after graduating as the director of development. After supporting the network in raising over $1.5 million dollars, Ms. Lee is thrilled to transition to the role of founding director of operations at Hiawatha Collegiate High School!

Beatriz Alcazar Alvarez

Social Worker | 612-600-1875

Favorite book: Feminism is for Everyone by Bell Hooks
Favorite hobby: Going on walks with my three sons.

I was born and raised in California where I studied sociology and multicultural studies. I moved to Minnesota to pursue a masters degree in social work at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I have experience working in schools and various nonprofits providing advocacy, crisis intervention support, outreach, case management and mental health support.
As a first generation college graduate and daughter of Mexican immigrants, I understand the challenges that can arise when preparing for and pursuing higher education. I am excited to work in a position where I can work with our scholars as they embark on their own academic journey.

Ben MacKenzie

Ninth Grade Speech and Composition Teacher | 612-695-3800 | @@MrMacK_MN

Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Favorite hobby: Inventing games with my brothers

I grew up between mountain ranges in Montana. Since then, I've called classrooms around the world home. From the Indian Himalayas to the dusty Ghanaian plains, from city skyscrapers to country pastures, I love working with young people. Having returned to Minnesota to start a family, I've been active in making great schools for local families. I always love helping young people start to find their voice, express their opinions and share their ideas with the world. I'm most excited when they take over from me.

Caleea Kidder

Founding Dean of Students | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 651-485-1148

Favorite book: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Favorite hobby: Cooking

Ms. Kidder is the founding dean of students at Hiawatha Collegiate High School. She was born and raised in St. Paul, MN, and attended Saint Paul Public Schools and then the University of Minnesota, where she earned a B.A. in Spanish Studies and Child Psychology. She then earned a M.Ed. in youth development from the University of Illinois at Chicago, only to return home to Minnesota to serve the communities she calls home. Ms. Kidder has worked with youth as a mental health professional as well as through coordinating a college access program for Latino adolescents. She believes that young people thrive when surrounded by consistently supportive adults, and she's excited to be able to interact with young people on a daily basis. Outside of work, Ms. Kidder enjoys playing and watching basketball, trying out new recipes and playing with her children, Oscar and Mabel.

Dana Hanson

Tenth Grade World Literature Teacher | 612-600-5451 | @obviouslyforgot

Favorite book: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Favorite hobby: Bad TV and Food Blogs

Ms. Hanson is a Twin Cities native. She studied English at the University of Iowa, where she graduated in 2008. In 2010, she joined Teach for America, and taught high school English in Indianola, MS. From 2012-2014, she was the founding Academic Director of Beyond Walls: Urban Squash Twin Cities, an after-school college prep program.

Gabriela Xochihua-Strickland

Art Teacher and Paraprofessional | 612-227-2887

Favorite book: Bless me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Favorite hobby: Ceramics

I was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2015 with a personalized major including the Arts, Psychology, and Social Justice. I have worked with numerous non-profit arts organizations within various educational settings. I have always felt the need and urgency to serve underrepresented populations. I love my work at Hiawatha Collegiate High School because it enables me to grow in many and unforeseen ways. Working closely with youth is a passion of mine, I find their perspective of the world to be inspiring, and refreshing. Our scholars push me to be better and stronger everyday. I feel that our community works hard to help one another be the best that we can be.

Ian McLaughlin

Special Education Coordinator | 612-220-8829

Favorite book: Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Favorite hobby: Cooking

I was born and raised in New York City, NY. I began my career researching disabilities and psychophysiology at the University of Minnesota before I transitioned into K-12 Education - where I have worked as a special education teacher and now coordinator across the Minneapolis metro area. I love my work as a special education teacher as it allows me to help students who sometimes struggle in school - as I struggled in school having been diagnosed with Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Joe Kennealy

World History Teacher | 612-600-3094

Favorite book: Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Mr. Kennealy was born, raised, and educated in Minnesota. He followed the Mississippi River down to Memphis, TN, and spent three years teaching history before returning home to Minnesota. Outside of work, Mr. Kennealy and his wife spend time discussing what Dumbledore really saw in the Mirror of Erised and what the Hufflepuff common room looks like.

Jon Laven

Math Teacher | 612-600-5411

Favorite book: East of Eden by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck
Favorite hobby: Running

Mr. Laven grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis and is excited to be teaching in the city that he calls home. After graduating from St. Olaf College in 2012, Jon moved to Las Vegas, NV and taught high school math as a Teach for America corps member. In 2014 he moved to Connecticut where he studied theology at Yale Divinity School. He graduated in May of 2016 and is excited to be back in Minnesota working with the Hiawatha Collegiate High School team. Mr. Laven admires the grit and zeal of his students. He loves to see them energized by learning, community, and service.

Jordan Humble

Founding Biology Teacher | 612-220-1769

Favorite book: Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn
Favorite hobby: Backpacking and Canoeing

After growing up as an outdoor enthusiast in Connecticut, Mr. Humble moved into the mountains of Vermont to pursue an undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Vermont. Upon graduation, Jordan's love for teaching and the natural sciences brought him to Minnesota where he has been teaching high school biology for the past four years. He holds a master's degree in teaching from Hamline University and can usually be found exploring the wilderness of Minnesota on foot, in a canoe, or on a bike.

Lindsay DeLand

English Language Development Teacher | 612-281-4443

Favorite book: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Favorite hobby: Writing

I'm from St. Cloud, MN. I earned my undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa and my graduate degree in language teaching from the University of Oregon. I have experience teaching in Iowa, Oregon, Mexico, and Japan. The favorite part of my work is seeing scholars go from limited to no English to communicating fluently!

Matt Toppin

Dean of Instruction | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 612-802-5521 | @mtop7

Favorite book: The Bible
Favorite hobby: Playing tennis and sports with my son

Mr. Toppin was born and raised in Hastings, MN, then went on to Gustavus Adolphus College (go gusties!). He began his career in education as a High School math teacher, where he taught algebra I and geometry at North Miami Beach Senior High. After moving back to Minnesota, he spent three years coaching new teachers before joining Hiawatha Academies in 2013. Before his role as dean, Mr. Toppin taught seventh grade math at Hiawatha College Prep from 2013-2016. He is eager to be back working with high school students and to see his founding class graduate in just two short years. Outside of school he enjoys spending time with his family - wife Lauren, son Luke and daughter Audrey.

Meg O’Connor

Tenth Grade Speech and Composition Teacher | 612-281-0996

Favorite book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Favorite hobby: Reading, knitting and writing short stories

Growing up in Minneapolis, Ms. O'Connor couldn't imagine living anywhere other than this lake laden land. She attended the University of Minnesota, where she earned her B.A. in English Literature. She began her teaching career at a small private school in Burnsville, MN, where she taught literature and composition. Always wanting to work in a high school, she was eager to begin her journey with Hiawatha Academies. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Teaching from Hamline University.

Nadia Nibbs

Multicultural Literature Teacher | 612-281-6653

Favorite book: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Favorite hobby: Salsa and bachata dancing

Ms. Nibbs graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in History. She became passionate about teaching English Literature after teaching high school english for four years in Kansas City Public Schools. Now she is a member of the founding team of Hiawatha Collegiate High School and could not be more elated to acclimate to Minneapolis with the support of such a great school team.

Natalie Heath

English Language Development Teacher | 608-386-5907

Favorite book: Wonder by Raquel J. Palacio
Favorite hobby: Playing soccer

I was born and raised in La Crosse, WI. I came to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota. After graduating in 2010, I joined Teach For America and taught for two years in Memphis, TN. I returned to Minneapolis in 2012 to teach middle school english language arts. After three years of teaching middle school, I jumped at the opportunity to join the founding team at Hiawatha Collegiate High School. The best thing about my role is working with the best students in the world and helping them reach their goals.

Nicole Cooley

Principal | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 612-547-9746

Favorite book: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Favorite hobby: Yoga

Ms. Cooley is the founding Principal of Hiawatha Collegiate High School. She began her career in education teaching in St. Louis through Teach for America. She then moved to Chicago, where she worked as a teacher and administrator at Gary Comer College Prep, a campus of Noble Street Charter School, the highest performing high school charter network in the city. While there, she led both students and teachers to unprecedented successes, most notably, 100 percent graduation and enrollment in college. In 2013, she joined the Hiawatha Academies as director of teaching and learning. When asked about her work, she said, "“I feel amazingly grateful to be part of a network wherein one hundred percent of students will not only graduate from high school, but will be academically and personally be prepared to experience both the success and challenge that will exist for them in college".”

Ryan Williams-Virden

Dean of Students | Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 612-281-6659

Mr. Williams-Virden is from Northeast Minneapolis and is dedicated to making his city more just and equitable. He is the founding social studies teacher at Hiawatha Collegiate Prep.

Tony Andrade

Enrichment Coordinator

Victor Sanchez Castro

Office Manager | 612-600-5573

Favorite book: Watchmen, by Alan Moore
Favorite hobby: Running