Please join me in welcoming our 2016 blogging fellows: Angela, Coralie, Karen, Martha, Matt and Tarkor. We're thrilled to introduce these passionate students, parents and educators who will share their ideas, stories and opinions on our blog throughout the year.
- Angela Vang: Angela is currently a senior at St. Paul Central High School. Born and raised in Minnesota, all of her schooling has taken place within the St. Paul public school district. Her interest in education started in early high school and has stayed with her until today. She has completed fellowships with Breakthrough Twin Cities, Youthprise, Pollen Midwest and currently serves as co-chair on Minnesota Youth Council's Education Committee. Angela hopes to aid in efforts to build bridges, create culturally competent work spaces and close the achievement gap. Along with education, Angela is passionate about women's rights (especially reproductive justice), eliminating mental illness stigmas within and outside immigrant communities, environmental sustainability and racial equity. She intends to major in journalism and political science.
- Coralie Maldonado: Coralie is currently a junior at North High School in North St. Paul. She is part of the policy committee in the Minnesota Youth Council and is a member of the Youth Leadership Council. She is also president of an activist group at her school called S.T.A.N.D (Solidarity Through the Annihilation of the Normality of Discrimination). Being very passionate about social justice, she can usually be found either attending a workshop or conference, reading non-fiction literature or posting a rant about current events on one of her many social media accounts.
- Karen Shapiro: Karen cannot remember a time in her life when she was not, in some capacity, teaching. She currently serves as the technology instructor at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park in South Minneapolis, and has taught every grade from kindergarten to seventh in California, New York and Minnesota. When not teaching, she spends most of her time thinking about digital literacy, collaboration with families, racial justice and organizational health within schools.
- Martha Johnson: Martha has taught everything from Spanish Immersion Social Studies to Service-Learning in Saint Paul Public Schools. After teaching for 28 years, she now works as an education consultant with Secondary Immersion & Solutions in Education, SISE LLC. She is a volunteer with the MN Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and serves as a member of the SPPS Special Education Advisory Council. Martha is passionate about many education-related topics, including parent engagement, mindfulness, social emotional learning, trauma-informed schools and redesigning school discipline into opportunities to promote healing.
- Matt Batesky: Matt is high school special education teacher in Edina and has worked with students in grades 10-12 for the past three years, teaching academic skills courses, English, United States History and World History. Matt is also a member of the staff equity book club and the school's equity team. Prior to teaching in Minnesota, Matt was a New York City Teaching Fellow and spent eight years in Brooklyn public middle and high schools teaching secondary special education students and general education high school social studies. Matt's passions lie in racial equity, differentiation to meet student needs and culturally responsive teaching.
- Tarkor Zehn: Tarkor grew up in Brooklyn Park and attended Osseo Area Schools, where she now works as an equity specialist for the district. Outside of work, she keeps busy as an all around education advocate and a freelance journalist, thanks in part to her undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of St. Thomas. Tarkor is passionate (and loves writing) about all things equitable and culturally responsive to the learning of children. To keep up with her education escapades, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @tarkozehn.
We believe that by elevating the voices of Minnesotans who care deeply about giving every kid the chance to succeed, we can improve policies impacting our schools and the conversations taking place around them. With diverse experiences in Minnesota schools, our fellows will no doubt bring invaluable perspectives to these conversations.
We can't wait to see what our fellows write, and we hope you'll follow along with their work by regularly checking our blog.