Home Minnesota Educator Fergus Falls’ Christianson brings special focus to her connections with kids, colleagues

Fergus Falls’ Christianson brings special focus to her connections with kids, colleagues

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Fergus Falls teacher and union leader

Mindy Christianson, a Fergus Falls high school teacher and union leader, was Minnesota’s 2023 NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence recipient.

This award not only recognizes and rewards exemplary educators for their outstanding instruction, but also their advocacy to advance the profession.

“I like advocating for people and helping them in any way I can,” said Christianson, who currently serves as the Fergus Falls Education Association local co-president. “In our union, we are focusing on forward momentum and what we can accomplish together.”

In her classroom, Christianson also focuses on advocacy—for her students and expanding their world view.

Christianson teaches English and concurrent enrollment classes at Kennedy Secondary School.
She has created a college-level Intercultural Communications class, which was her favorite class when she was in college at Hamline University.

“I would have liked to have had the class in high school,” Christianson said. “It would have made me a better student and classmate.”

The class includes taking the Intercultural Development Inventory, which measures intercultural competence. The class also spends a day in Fargo, meeting new Americans studying at an adult learning center and spending time at different restaurants and international markets.

“We spend time with people, hearing their stories, dispelling a lot of myths,” Christianson said.
Throughout the class, students take part in more purposeful experiences, all the while journaling and reflecting on if they have grown a broader perspective on the world.

Christianson also has her students out in their own community.

The last few days of each school year, her junior students do service-learning projects. Students choose if they want to be group leaders, then set up the projects with local businesses or community groups and recruit their teams.

“It’s beneficial for themselves and the community,” Christianson said.

In Christianson’s college writing class, students pick a problem, do research and surveys and find a solution. She then has people like school administration and board members, the mayor, and hospital administrators come in to hear their students’ ideas.

“Last year, a few worked on the idea of student mental health coming out of the pandemic,” Christianson said. “The high school principals really listened and changed our schedule to include an advisory period each day for additional support. The students felt so heard.”

Christianson’s focus on listening and communicating is also what makes her an effective union leader, her colleagues said.

“She stops and takes the time to share what needs to be shared,” said Renee Erickson, a fellow teacher at Kennedy Secondary School. “She makes sure every member knows everything they need to know.”

Christianson continues to expand her own world view, including participating in Education Minnesota’s Racial Equity Advocate program.

“I try to find the ways I can to learn from others and make our community the best place for everyone,” she said.

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