Hi, I’m Angela!
I’m a native Minnesotan, born and raised in Glenwood on the shores of Lake Minnewaska. I grew up on a farm, as the oldest of four siblings, and the only daughter of 3 great parents. My dad was a farmer, an excavator operator, and a handyman, among his many talents. My mom was a math whiz who worked as a waitress and kept books for several restaurants in the area until landing a position at the University of Minnesota, Morris. And my stepdad, who joined my life when I was 3, worked as a nurse and farmed “as a hobby.”
My stepdad’s parents were teachers; my grandmother taught special education, and my grandfather was an English professor. When people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was swift and unwavering – I wanted to be “a teacher.”
I thrived academically and felt valued and supported thanks to the public school teachers of Minnewaska Area Schools, many of whom I’m still in contact with today. As I navigated my school years, I loved learning, anything really, but developed a particular passion for Spanish language and the culture of the Hispanic world. I also played a lot of tennis, which is how I learned of Gustavus Adolphus College as a teenager. When it came time to apply for college, my guidance counselor at school encouraged me to apply there, as she understood that schools like Gustavus tried hard to provide financial support for promising students like me who wouldn’t otherwise be able to make it work. I was thrilled to have the chance at a world-class education while continuing to play competitive tennis!
In college, I developed a love for both Spanish and geology; I’ve always been a proponent of both humanities and sciences. Then, my junior year, I took a course on Spanish linguistics – the scientific study of language as a system – and I knew I had found my niche. I made the decision to pursue a career as a Spanish professor, and headed to Southern California for graduate school. I longed for an environment where I could continue to cultivate my language skills outside the classroom and immerse myself in Hispanic/Latinx culture, and San Diego ended up being a perfect fit.
For 13 years, I lived the dream of my youth and took great pride in having students walk out of my classrooms wiser than when they walked in each day. More importantly, I formed lasting bonds with those students, celebrating their successes, talking through their failures, and reminding them to never stop learning, as life will be sure to teach you something every day if you let it.
Meanwhile, I got married, and while teaching at St. John’s University in central Minnesota, we started a family. We enjoyed our time in the St. Cloud area, but we also longed for a larger, more diverse community to allow our kids to learn more about the world from their peers than either their father or I had (he grew up in Alexandria, MN). So, we packed up our little crew and headed back to San Diego…but it was short lived. Although we loved California, we decided to end our marriage and we figured we’d have more support back in Minnesota, so we returned.
When we came back to Minnesota, I was at a crossroads (in more ways than one). I had envisioned one day moving into a full-time administrative role in higher education (I had served in a hybrid faculty/administrative role during my time at St. John’s while earning a MS in Higher Education Administration), and it had always been a dream to return to Gustavus as a professional. I was so grateful for all that community had afforded me in my life, and I wanted to give back. Fortunately, the team in the Gustavus Office of Admission took a chance on me, as while I was well-versed in the academic side of higher ed, I knew much less about enrollment management. It turned out to be a very fortunate turn of events, as I continued to build my skills on the “business” side of things, and I also had the chance to connect to high schools, both here in Minnesota and on both U.S. coasts. From my experience in admission, I came to understand a great deal more about how to set students up for success, in college and in the working world. Two years later, I was recruited to join the Advancement team in the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement, and I’ve served as director since 2017.
So, it was this serendipitous turn of events, moving back to Minnesota and working at Gustavus, that brought me to Chanhassen. We knew we wanted to live in the metro area but wanted a strong connection to the natural world, and the southwest metro felt like a good fit given the potential commute. My primary motivator in choosing a location was the local public school system; I researched Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Shakopee, and Eastern Carver County Schools. For me, our district’s commitment to the balance of academics, arts, and athletics, coupled with its framework of personalized learning, were great assets. We toured Chanhassen Elementary, and found it had everything we wanted: a relatively diverse student body, smiling faces in the halls, and kind, supportive teachers and staff. Our fantastic experience with principal Greg Lange closed the deal – we were ready to settle in Chan!
We love it here, and we’ve had a great experience at both Chan Elementary and now Pioneer Ridge Middle School, where my daughter spent last year. I served on the Chan El PTO, volunteered in the community, and we joined a local church. But even then, I was interested in getting more “plugged in” here and looked for opportunities to get to know more folks in the area. I became aware of the District 112 Foundation from a year-end mailer they’d sent to families, and I was intrigued by what sounded like a fascinating history and evolution of vision. I decided I wanted to help be a part of growing the Foundation, strengthening its partnerships, and finding its niche among the fundraising entities in the district, so I joined the Board of Directors in 2017. It’s been an honor to serve our communities as the Foundation’s chair as we seek to advance excellence and innovation in education throughout Eastern Carver County Schools.
As you may have gathered, I was not born into a position of privilege but rather one of promise. My family lived in poverty from time to time throughout my youth, primarily dictated by how the crops performed each year, even though each of my parents worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. My parents supported me and believed in the value of education, and I’ve been grateful to feel that same ethos in this community. All the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen, and the folks I’ve gotten to know have enriched my life with learning experiences. And now, I’m invigorated by the prospect of bringing my experience, skill set, and passion to this new role on the Eastern Carver County School Board.