I started my formal education as a 2-yr-old in my aunt's pre-school Montessori program. My aunt eventually became Mrs. Rogers at Breck Preschool, where she continues to this day.
After a couple of years there, I began AM kindergarten at Page Elementary School with Mrs. Hansen. I really don't remember much about K, but I guess I learned enough to move on to first grade. I remember that as a HUGE difference because I was in school for the FULL day and then played soccer with "Big" kids in the evenings. I was only 7, but playing with 9-year-olds. Something interesting about my 1st Grade class is that there were SIX of us who went to Washburn and became members of the National Honor Society in the same year. We invited Mrs. Westberg to attend, which was a nice "closing of the loop," if you will.
Second grade with Mrs. Hickman was a blur. The big thing about 3rd grade with Mrs. Arnhdt was that it ended with Page being closed. The Superintendant, Dr. Richard Green, closed a lot of neighborhood schools. Since Page was located right on the Minnehaha Parkway, the district could make a lot of money by selling the land as condominuiums. I learned about the connection between money and school at a young age.
The transition to a new school was VERY scary at first. The close-knit group of students from Page were dispersed among five different"units" at Field School. A few of us were placed in BLUE unit with Mr. Bertrand. Others were banished to Red, Green, Orange, or Gold. It was different. Relatively HUGE, but I seemed to thrive. Mr. B was great and an early model for what I was to become.
The Junior High School experience was similar to everyone else's - a snapshot of life hopefully lost forever. While I enjoyed it at the time, I can now say that I really gained very little from that era - my teachers were good, my friends were fine, but it is a truly lost era in everyone's life.
High School brought choice. I could have gone with my two best friends to South, but I had been born to a MIller and raised to cheer for the Orange & Blue. These were great times for me. I enjoyed high school. A couple of teachers challenged me, but I learned about the concept of individual motivation, which proved beneficial in college.
I applied to 12 colleges & universities, and was heavily recruited by a acouple of others (including West Point). My interst was in earning a Chemical Engineering degree with a History minor. Thankfully, Stanford & Harvard did not accept me, since I would have probably gone to either. But, I did accepted to the following: University of MInnesota, Iowa State, Trinity University (TX), George Washington University (DC), Boston College, Boston University, Syracuse University, Cornell University, Princeton University, and Brown University. INterestingly, I ended up at my then-bottom choice, Brown.
Brown was enlightening, challenging, fund, and had a profound impact on my outlook and eventual aspirations. After 3 weeks, I found myself struggling academically for the firt time in my life. My first semester was rough - VERY difficult. I had survived and gotten by on natural ability & interest, but I was now in school with the best of the best from throughout the world. I dropped engineering and followed my passion - history. A fantastic, supportive dean enrolled me in a mid-level course led by THE pre-eminent scholar on Modern Latin America (although he specialized in Brazil). I was the only frosh in the class, but I learned so much! I had a tutor help refine my formal academic writing style, and I befriended another professor in the history department - one who truly shaped my instructional style (he is routinely voted on as the best lecturer in the department).
While all of my friends were engineering or pre-med, I remained the oddball who took spent a semester in DC at American University studying US Foreign Policy. I interned at a think tank focused on US-Latin American relations, and I had a job waiting for me upon graduation. After a summer in Mexico, I returned and graduated from Brown. After taking a year to decompress, work in sales and decide my eventual path - grad school (Yale, UW-Madison, or UT-Austin)? Law School? US Foreign Service? DC policy think tank?
My heart led me to the UofMinn, where I earned my teaching license in social studies. I student-taught at Washburn, and was then hired at my alma mater. It was amazing. I spent eleven years at Washburn, teaching & learning, coaching, coordinating, leading, and doing my best. Mr. Percy & I started to rebuild the boys program; and after 6 years, I jumped over to the girls' program to work with a fellow WHS '91 alum, John Sylvester. We won city during our final season, laying the groundwork for future success (and current domination). I also coached in the softball program at various times.
The Fresh Start was not a good experience for me - at the time - but it gave me the opportunity to work in a different building and take an alternative approach to Mpls public education. After six years at Southwest High School, I was offered the opportunity to come back to Washburn. I am happy to be back, not only teaching, but also coordinating the AVID program, and returning to the sideline as a boys soccer coach and to the bench as a JV Softball coach. But my passion remains in the classroom, working with students and sharing my experiences while helping them find their place in the world.
I decided that my role in this world would be to educate, enlighten, inspire, challenge, and support others so as to leave my mark in tiny packages over the course of a teaching and coaching career in my hometown neighborhood. My legacy will be measured by the achievements of my students. And I will forever be proud to be here - past, present, and future..