Our staff are diverse in their strengths and interests. Meet some staff that are making things happen outside of the classrooms.
Ms. Mariam Mohamed
Banaadir North fourth grade teacher, Mariam Mohamed is a published author. Being both an author and a teacher was Ms. Mohamed’s childhood dream, and she made both those goals come to fruition.
In 2017, she wrote Ayeeyo’s Golden Rule because she wanted her East African students to read and see themselves in a book. Ayeeyo means grandmother in Somali and the book tells the story of a grandmother passing down her golden rule to her granddaughter, Yasmeen. A Somali girl who immigrated to the US, Yasmeen uses her grandmother’s inspirational words to work through bullying and make new friends. Ayeeyo’s Golden Rule is visually beautiful, and the story is universal for all students to read. It’s a reminder of the importance of being kind and humble.
Ms. Mohamed was featured on WCCO 4 News in October 2017 where she explained her reasons for writing the book and also gave a shout out to her students at Banaadir.
Purchase her book and find more information on her website, mariammohamed.com.
Ms. Allison Raney
MTS Secondary music teacher, Allison Raney, is a member of the jazz group, The Apple Cellar Trio. The trio performs jazz standards but adds a contemporary twist to create shows that are full of life. They bring classics from Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer & Billy Hill together with favorites from more current artists like Tom Waits & Leonard Cohen.
You can follow The Apple Cellar Trio on Soundcloud.
Ms. Raney also teaches voice and piano at Twin Town Guitars in Minneapolis and is the founder of a nonprofit organization committed to providing quality programming in the creative arts.
Ms. Sheila McMahon & Ms. Heather Bassler Zemien
MTS Elementary Title 1 teacher, Sheila McMahon, has published two hardcover children’s books, a novel and a softcover little book through her micropublishing company, Pennywick Press.
Heather Bassler Zemien, an art teacher at P.E.A.S.E. Academy, illustrated the children’s book, Isabella, Cat in the City: A Visit to the IDS Center. The two teachers went on to produce a special edition called, Why Isabella Marches, which told the story of Isabella attending the Women’s March in St. Paul. Their third book is called, Isabella Cat in the City: A Visit to the Guthrie Theater.
You can find their books at the Guthrie Theater gift shop, and the special edition is available at Claddagh Coffee (459 7th Street W) in St. Paul. Go to pennywickpress.com for more information.
Mr. Dennis Carlson
Superintendent Denny Carlson is a member of pce, an innovative trio that performs both classic and deep cut rock, blues and ballads in a broad range of genres from the 60’s to today. Carlson is well known for his Neil Young-like voice, tight harmonies, rhythm guitar and harmonica. Find more information on Facebook.
Mr. Emmanuel Obikwelu
MTS Secondary Science teacher, Emmanuel Obikwelu, is the president and founder of Change Community, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in St. Paul. Change Community, Inc. is currently building a quality STEM-based private boarding school in Nigeria called, Anambra Math, Science and Technology.
The school will benefit underprivileged kids in the southeastern state of Anambra. Sixty-five percent of the students that live in the state cannot attend school because there are no classrooms. Mr. Obikwelu and his non-profit are acting on the belief that all children have a right to a quality education.
To donate or learn more, go to changecommunityinc.org for more information about the school project.
Mr. Matt Finnesgard
MVHS Special Education coordinator, Matt Finnesgard, travels the midwest during the summer racing bikes. As a member of Loonstate Cycling (OneTen Cycles), he has competed in over 30 races, putting 5,000 miles on his bike this year – the same number he put on his car.
As a team, Loonstate won the Midwest Flyover Series, the State Road and Time Trial events as well as the Criterium Du Nord. His roles on the team are to control the pace of the race and sprint at the end.
If you stop by the fairgrounds (MN State Fair) during summer Tuesday racing nights, you can cheer on Mr. Finnesgard.
Mr. Martin Lukaszewski
Martin Lukaszewski is very busy outside of his roles as MN Virtual High School Language Arts teacher and secretary/treasurer of the Board of Directors.
He is the owner of MartyandJeanLuke.com, a foundation that brings awareness to Parkinson’s disease. Through its blog, Silver Linings, readers find out about he and wife Jean’s walk with the disease. A book, based on Silver Linings, is one of two he is editing. The second is a coloring book teaching young children about service animals. His spreading awareness also extends to public speaking on such topics as service dogs and living life with Parkinson’s.
Due to the exposure of MartyandJeanLuke.com, Mr. Lukaszewski has been honored in numerous campaigns including MyAngel, My Hero; Believe In Better sponsored by the National Parkinson’s Foundation; and A New Leash on Life for Can Do Canines, Inc.
He also provides physical and financial wellness as an Advocare distributor.
Mr. Adolph Mottey
Technical aide, Adolph Mottey, is an events photographer, capturing those special moments important to all families. You will often see him with his camera at MTS Secondary events.
Check out Mr. Mottey’s photographs at motteyphotography.com.