Meet Our Team
Carrie Bakken was hired (by Gretchen Sage-Martinson) as one of the first team of teachers to open Avalon School in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2001. She is a Program Coordinator and Social Studies Teacher. Because of her experience working in Avalon's unique Teacher Powered and Student Centered model, Carrie was awarded a two year Aspen Institute/Pahara Teacher Fellowship and won an Outstanding Educator in Ethics Education sponsored by the WEM Foundation. She also serves as a Teacher Powered Ambassador to nationally represent Avalon's collaborative Governance model. Carrie earned a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas, a Juris Doctorate from Hamline University, and a Bachelors Degree from Beloit College.
Carrie joined Avalon in the Fall of 2015 and serves as one of Avalon's Special Education Coordinators. She received her Master's Degree in Special Education from National University in San Diego, California and has been teaching for over 25 years. She moved to Minnesota with her husband and two kids, who are also students at Avalon, 8 years ago. While winters were definitely an adjustment, she wouldn't trade fall in Minnesota for anything!
Maggie joined the Avalon team in 2016. Maggie's position is not as an advisor, but instead she solely teaches high school math classes. Maggie has a youtube channel where you can find the lessons presented from her courses "@maggieduffy4921." When not teaching math you can find her enjoying family life with her two children, Liam and Logan, and husband, Joe.
Jean joined Avalon in 2021 after a long year as a Special Education Teacher on Zoom. What's better than teaching on Zoom? ANYTHING! Jean loves helping students discover their passions and skills while connecting them with real world community-based experiences. Jean studied life at the school of hard knocks, received a Bachelor's in Fine Art from California College of the Arts, and a Master's in Special Education from the University of St. Thomas. When not saying to students, "of course that can be a project" you can find them watching B-horror films with their teen, roadtripping, painting, dancing with friends, or planning the next revolution.
I'm an educational assistant at Avalon! I graduated from Macalester College with a BA in English in fall 2022, and this is my first year at Avalon. I grew up in the Saint Paul school system and am super excited to reenter this world from an educator's perspective. In my free time I enjoy knitting, reading, and rock climbing.
In 2005, Avalon School was introduced to Regina Goldner. She was enthusiastic about math, thought the teacher-powered model was a great fit for her and was ready to share her love of project-based learning with everyone. Regina graduated from Fairhaven College in Bellingham, WA with a concentration in Environmental and Social Justice with a minor in Chemistry. She continued her education and earned her Master's in Education from the University of Minnesota. When Regina is not teaching, she can be found spending time with her family, cooking, farming (she has backyard ducks and huge gardens), building things, making art, and sometimes playing video games. She is honored to be an advisor at Avalon School, and thinks of Avalon as her second home. Also, math is cool. Also, STEM is the funnest.
Claire Fontaine Gunder is an advisor and science teacher, with a focus on biology, at Avalon School. Claire Fontaine joined the team in 2023 and is excited to teach science to the next generation of students. She is a double Gopher, having earned her B.S. in Cellular and Organismal Physiology with a Pharmacology minor, and she is actively working towards earning her M.Ed. in Science Education, both at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. In her free time, she enjoys board games and tabletop RPGs, video games, arts and crafts, journaling, and finding fun experiences to enjoy with friends and family.
Claire Fontaine Gunder
Dan joined Avalon in October, 2022 as a Special Education Case Manager. He enjoys supporting high school students as they navigate their academic goals and consider future pathways. Beyond teaching, Dan enjoys spending time with his wife, cooking, reading, woodworking, and spending time outdoors. Dan has made very little progress in learning guitar, but has hope.
Chris started working at Avalon in 2006 and has had many different roles over the years, including educational assistant, technology coordinator, high school advisor, and many more minor roles. Prior to Avalon, Chris grew up in Northfield, MN, went to college at Macalester College in St. Paul, and got his master's in teaching at Hamline University. He has been a dishwasher, paper deliver person, short order cook, landscape restoration specialist, and house painter.Chris gets real excited about lots of different sciency things.
As of this writing, Chris is especially into birds and mushrooms, as well as renewable energy. He spends an inordinate amount of time coaching sports, playing sports, watching sports, and reading articles about sports. Currently, Chris' primary hobbies include cross-country skiing, ultimate frisbee, and mountain biking. There are other things he does besides sports, like canoeing (but not as a sport...yet), camping, playing board games, doing crosswords, making food, and fixing stuff.
Chris made a whole website dedicated to sports: Avalon Sports.
My name is Mickey Jurewicz, I use she/her pronouns, I am a high school advisor and our licensed art teacher. Working at Avalon School is an educator's dream come true and I am so grateful for my job here. I have one super awesome daughter and she and I together have been lucky enough to travel to 20 different countries. It is by far, our favorite thing to do! I went to the College of St. Benedict for my undergraduate degrees (BFA in Studio Art, with a focus in Ceramics and Silversmithing), and I attended graduate school at Xavier University. I love making pottery, listening to music (BTS is the BEST!) and watching movies. If I could have a super power, it would be to speak every language in the world.
Randall is the wood shop teacher and an Special Education Assistant at Avalon. After his daughter Paige enrolled at Avalon, he had a hard time staying away. It seems that both Paige and Randall had found a special place. After many years of volunteering as much as possible doing whatever he could to be in the community, he humbly accepted his current position. The Avalon community is a great place for both students and Randall. His soul is brighter because of Avalon. Shoes are over-rated. All hail education!
Sam graduated from Avalon back in the day and then went on to study German at Hamline University. After that, she got her teaching license in Second Languages and Cultures from the University of Minnesota. She started teaching in Minneapolis Public Schools, moved to St. Paul Public Schools, and finally landed at Avalon. She is so happy to be back and teaching German and English Language Learners! Outside of Avalon, she loves hanging with her dog and parents, working on her house, and going to trivia nights with friends.
In the fall of 2005, Monessa graduated from St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis with a Masters in Instruction. During that course work, she received licensure requirements for a Social Studies License. Previously, Monessa has had experience working with children of all ages from various backgrounds including; nannying, pre-school teaching, and working at the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital in the Child Life Department as well as volunteering at a Women’s Domestic Abuse safe house. Monessa’s undergraduate degree in Drama Therapy for Urban Youth was achieved at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. The BA includes background in theatre, child psychology, and urban studies.
Anna Noble first found Avalon in the spring of 2002, when she visited as part of her undergraduate studies at Hamline University. She stayed on as a work study student until she got her teaching license, then went to teach at a small high school in Minneapolis for about a year and a half. She felt the call of Avalon once again and helped to get the middle school program off the ground in 2005 and has happily been here ever since. Anna also teaches in the Graduate School of Education at Concordia University, which partners beautifully with her work at Avalon.Anna lives just outside of St. Paul with her husband, kids, cats, and the many woodland creatures who frequent her yard.
Ian has been at Avalon since 2014. He teaches Language Arts classes mostly focused on American Literature with occasional meanderings into Music, Film, and Aesthetics.
My name is Donovan O'Dowd and I have been working in the field of special education since 2016. In the fall of 2022 I began working at Avalon and prior to that I worked at another charter school located in St. Paul. During my free time I enjoy playing basketball, ultimate frisbee, disc golfing, and being outside. I have coached both basketball and ultimate frisbee in the past and I am hoping to get back into coaching again soon.
I started my job in Avalon as an educational assistant and enjoyed my experience with colleagues and student so much that it encouraged me to pursue a career as a special education teacher. This has been my first year as a special education teacher in Avalon and it has been very fulfilling. I also earned a Psychology degree in Nicaragua over 10 years ago. I have always enjoyed teaching and building relationships with students that allow them to be themselves as they learn academics and navigate life situations. I have two children and enjoy watching cartoons with them, we also enjoy eating out and driving to new places. I love the beach, a good book and good music (80's music)!
I came to this world later in life. My past has added a patina that I carry with me each day into most situations. I see the world through artist eyes. I listen with learning ears. My favorite food is pizza, I am learning to love math.
Tim Quealy began working at Avalon School in 2008. Since 2014, Tim has served as Program Coordinator and high school advisor. In 2018, Tim participated in Education Reimagined's Pioneer Lab (San Francisco) and was also recognized by the WEM Foundation as an Outstanding Educator in Ethics Education during both the 17-18 and 18-19 school years.
Though licensed in Language Arts, Tim loves to support students with math, computer science, and web design projects, leading a group of students through a full website design and build of Avalon's own homepage in 2023.
Tim has a degree in English from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s in Teaching from Hamline University. In addition to his work at Avalon, Tim also helps lead the Minnesota Learner-Centered Network, an organization dedicated to supporting, connecting, and promoting learner-centered environments across the state.
Tim can be reached at 651.649.5495 x 203
Rachel (she/her) starting at Avalon as HS Science Advisor. I moved from west central MN after teaching 16 years in a traditional high school. I can't wait to experience all that Avalon embodies and spend time with your kids! My BA (UMM) is in biology and I went on to graduate school to add physics, chemistry and earth space science. I am a science geek who also loves 'rock and roll'. When not going to rock concerts you can find me enjoying the outdoors or spending time with my family.
I am an Advisor and Social Studies teacher at Avalon. Coming from Brooklyn, my family are new residents of the Twin Cities. Before teaching, my professional background was in graphic design, photography, audio/music production, and digital art. I love rock climbing, comic books, horror movies, and history. In New York, I taught US History and AP Psych at Broome Street Academy, an extension of The Door, a community center downtown.
Gretchen has been at Avalon since before the beginning, getting involved with the planning team way back in the year 2000. Over the MANY years at Avalon, she has worked in a variety of positions, but always comes back to advising high school students. When not at Avalon, you can find Gretchen outside, walking her dog, rowing on the Mississippi, or cross-country skiing in one of our fabulous parks. She lives in St. Paul with her husband and enjoys visits from both her own recently launched sons as well as exchange students she's hosted from Peru, Pakistan, Russia, and Sweden.
Hi there :) Im super excited to be a part of Avalon and am looking forward to getting to know the students and staff. I have been involved in education for over 25+ years and have a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education. I have had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful children and families throughout my career. One of my most memorable trainings included a weekend-long workshop on talking with children and parents about race. I've also co-taught workshops on problem solving with young children to colleuges at the MNAEYC state held in St Paul. I've even had the opportunity to go to the MN State capital and talk to lawmakers about funding for Early Childhood Education Programs in the State of MN.When I am not shaping the many amazing minds at school, I love to be outdoors in nature and going on adventures with my dog, Maya. I enjoy listening to music, cooking, streaming a good tv series, going to the gym, playing cribbage, drawing, and visiting friends and family.
Joseph is a dedicated educator with a diverse background. Holding a Masters in Math Education and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Joseph brings a unique blend of expertise to the field. Prior to his teaching career, he served as an EMT and EMT educator, demonstrating his commitment to both health and education. Beyond the classroom, Joseph is an ardent nature enthusiast, with a deep passion for the outdoors, camping, and backpacking. However, when he's not exploring the wilderness, he finds joy in spending quality time at home with his partner, their adorable but stinky dog, energetic 3-year-old, and a charming flock of chickens.
After graduating from St. Olaf in 2008 with a degree in Art and Education, Sarah was thrilled to find work in Northfield area schools. She spent the first decade of her career as a Middle School Advisor and Art Teacher at Arcadia Charter School (with a bit of quality time spent teaching K-8 Art at the Cannon River Stem School). At Arcadia, Sarah had many great students, friends, and mentors and fell in love with Project Based Learning. In 2016, she returned to school to earn her MA in Special Education and shortly after (2018) joined the Avalon staff. Sarah has been a full-time Special Education Teacher ever since. Sarah is passionate about reading and writing instruction and is currently persuing her Orton Gillingham Certification. Sarah loves art, words (spoken and written), fractions, dogs and cats equally, green olives, long walks, and frequent trips to DQ.
Kevin Ward is an advisor at Avalon School. He joined Avalon in 2002 and feels lucky to be here. A graduate of Oberlin College with a BA in English, Kevin has also attended Northwestern University (MS in Secondary English Instruction) and University of Wisconsin-Madison (MA in English Literature). He lives in the Hamline Midway neighborhood of St. Paul with his wife Jess and two kids. Kevin likes reading and working with students, so the whole thing is a pretty good deal for him. Kevin can be reached at 612-405-3429 or email@example.com.
My name is Mandy Weinkauf. I am a School Social Worker, working within the Special Education Department. I am thrilled to be returning to Avalon! This is my 15th year as a School Social Worker, and my 5th year at Avalon. I was previously at Avalon from 2012-2016. Throughout my career, I have worked in K-12 settings, primarily within Special Education settings. In addition to my time at Avalon, I am a professor in graduate teacher education. I enjoy spending time with my family and our 5 pets, powerlifting, and being outside.
Nora is one of the founding teachers at Avalon school and competes with Carrie as the third/fourth hire on staff, behind Gretchen and Andrea Martin. Originally from Madison,Wisconsin, Nora started her life as a Minnesotan while at Saint Olaf College in Northfield. After traveling in the Middle East and India, she earned her degree from St. Olaf’s Paracollege (much like Avalon’s project-based learning) in Teaching Social History. Receiving a flyer in the mail to answer the question, "What is your Ideal School?", she jumped on board with Avalon and has never regretted the leap. Nora took some brief "holidays" to earn a Masters Degree at Columbia's Teachers College in NYC (2005-6), to experiment with retirement in Ireland (2007), and to juggle twins (2011-12). She always finds her way back.When Nora is not sharing an advisory with Gretchen or teaching a social studies seminar, she might be helping a new school get off the ground, observe other charter schools in action, walk along the river, or cheer for the Loons, Tigers, Sharks, or Falcons soccer teams. Nora can be reached at (612)470-7376 firstname.lastname@example.org
Becky is Fashion. There’s no better way to describe her! She enjoys her daily ritual of makeup application, which would make even the most perfectionist cosmetologist tap her foot in impatience. She has a picky ‘thing’ about the brands she uses: Becky always says: London is better than Chevon blue, but only if Raydel isn’t on the shelf, and if you want a low lit upper jawed mask over your shadow then forget about triple tipped mascara!We’re not actually sure what that means…She goes out once a week to buy a new dress, which she spends hours finding. She tries one on, then another and another and another! She sometimes has to call her BFF to come help her pick one out! And even then she just wants to buy them all… “So many decisions to make,” she said one day, speaking to a cashier. “I think I’ll just get the left half of the rack.” The cashier gave her an odd look. “In small please,” said Becky, after a long silence.Becky grew up in New York, NY. Her parents were the third richest hotel owners in Paris, so she went to the best school available (which is unknown to anyone with fewer than 5 houses). She spent most of her life after high school in the beauty magazine business. She enjoyed sharing her vast knowledge with her people. But after a long time of this, she realized that to really influence the population’s opinion on beauty products she needed to start with the children. Which led her here to Avalon, where she’s been sending kids subliminal messages about lipstick ever since.At first glance you might think that Becky Yuzna is nothing but a pretentious and superficial ego-maniac, but once you get to know her, you can see past that. Then you can look at Becky for who she really is: a pretentious and superficial ego-maniac with “really nice heels that I bought on sale in Italy one morning at this cute local shoe shop with a really nice guy behind the counter. Was he wearing a vest or a buttondown? I forgot, but I’m pretty sure it was blue and it matched his pants which……”Our favorite story about Becky…Once when Becky was on her monthly visit to France she decided to stop by one last store. Once inside she saw the “prettiest purse ever”. She asked the price and received a glorious answer: half price today, only 5000 dollars. But, as she looked over some other things, she came to an interesting decision: since she was a visitor in that small town, nobody knew how rich she was! She decided to insist on paying full price, and the shop owner graciously accepted her offer! Becky still has that beautiful purse (although we’re pretty sure it has gone unused).When her students aren’t making up tall tales (see above), Becky teaches things such as organization, responsibility, accountability, slacker slaying, social skills, tolerance, acceptance, time management, penmanship, respect of self and others, integrity, how to get a job or get ready for college, and special education. She has received her Bachelor of Science in Corrections, Master of Science in Experiential Education, and Special Education Teacher Licensure from Minnesota State University-Mankato. She also holds certification in Autism Spectrum Disorders at the University of St. Thomas. When not slaying the inner slacker of students, she enjoys wrestling zombies, hitching rides with Sky Pirates, being outside, cheering for the Green Bay Packers and copious amounts of Pepsi.Becky can be reached at (651) 649-5495 ext. 310 or email@example.com