MPSHome Alumni Calendar Contact
About Me

About me... information in the process of being declassified. That's me at the bottom...and no, the camera did not break. Yes, I am half-Mexican. I am one of the few (perhaps only?) Swedish-Welsh-Mexican hybrids around. My mother actually graduated from WHS many moons ago (1961). My father is from Guadalajara, Mexico. I grew up bilingual and visited Mexico every year during my first 18 years, so it is VERY much a part of my identity.

Quick bits o' info:

Back Teaching & Coaching at Washburn from 2014+

I taught & coordinated the AVID@WHS from 2014-2017

Taught at Southwest from 2008-2014

Taught & Coached at Washburn from 1997-2008

Born and raised in Mpls

Graduated from Washburn in 1991

Graduated from Brown University in 1995 (BA in History) - I also spent a semster at The American University in DC studying foreign policy and a summer in Mexico through the University of San Diego.

Received my Teaching License through the University of Minnesota in 1997

I go into more detail below that picture of me from the day a tornado ripped through Portland Ave in 2008 - four blocks from where I currently live.

Academics & WHS

I started my formal education as a 2-yr-old in my aunt's pre-school Montessori program run somewhere in Mpls (I think it wa at St. MAry's Greek Orthodox Church around Lake Bde Maka Ska). My aunt eventually became Mrs. Rogers at Breck Preschool, from where she retired in 2016.

After a couple of years as a Montessori kid, 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.  he Superintendent, Dr. Richard Green, closed a lot of neighborhood schools at the time. Since Page was located right on the Minnehaha Parkway, the district could make a lot of money by selling the land as condominiums. 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 couple of others (including West Point). My interest 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 get 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 an enlightening, challenging, fun experience which has had a profound impact on my outlook and eventual aspirations. After 3 weeks, I found myself struggling academically for the first 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 (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 soccer 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 domination). I also coached in the softball program at various times.

At the end of the 2008 academic year, Washburn had a "Fresh Start" that was deemed a success by some, a failure by some, and an absolute farce by others The new principal & I did not mesh well, so I was exiled from my 2nd home. Thankfully, I was salvaged by Dr. Bill Smith at Southwest & the district associate Superintendent, Dr. Brenda Cassellius who paid for me to be a Laker for six solid years.

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 returning to the sideline as a boys soccer coach (sophomore squad) and (briefly) 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...