The Education Minnesota Foundation for Excellence in Teaching and Learning was established in 1992 as the MEA Children’s Fund. It is affiliated with Education Minnesota, but functions independently as a nonprofit corporation.
It is funded through Education Minnesota members and donations from individuals and organizations that believe in the mission of the Foundation, supporting initiatives by Education Minnesota members, and promoting access for learners and excellence in teaching in Minnesota.
The decisions about funding and management of the Foundation rest with a Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is made up of eight K-12 teachers, one higher education representative, one ESP, one at-large member and the officers of Education Minnesota. You can read about the board below.
The Foundation Director carries out the board’s management decisions and day-to- day operations with the assistance of a support staff person.
All grants and scholarships offered by the Foundation are offered only to active, dues-paying Education Minnesota members.
About the Education Minnesota Foundation Board of Trustees
Tucker Quetone, Foundation Board President
Tucker Quetone has been a high school English teacher and equity advocate in Rochester, Minn., for the past 25 years. Tucker has taught in Oklahoma, Illinois, and Palestine (Occupied West Bank). Tucker also currently serves on the Education Minnesota Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee (EMAC), the National Education Association EMAC as Vice Chair of the American Indian/Alaska Native Caucus, and the American Federation of Teachers Program and Policy Council.
Tucker previously served as the president of the Rochester Education Association, and he has been a delegate at the Education Minnesota Representative Convention, the National Education Association Representative Assembly, and the American Federation of Teachers Convention. Tucker has served on the Foundation Board since 2010.
Paul Mueller, Education Minnesota Vice President
Paul Mueller was elected vice president of Education Minnesota at the Representative Convention in 2007 and re-elected in 2010, 2013 and 2016.
Paul served as a career and technical community-based programming teacher at Brooklyn Center High School for 24 years and served as the school’s Perkins fund coordinator for 17 years. In addition to a long and successful teaching career, Paul has served in local, state and national union positions including local president; negotiations chair; Education Minnesota governing board; Education Minnesota executive committee/budget and finance committee member; and as a member of the National Education Association Board of Directors representing the members of Education Minnesota.
Paul is specifically interested in highlighting the incredible diversity that exists thoughout our schools. The best way to celebrate diversity, he says, is by making sure that all learners, regardless of where they live or which school they attend, have the opportunity to be successful at the highest level they are capable of achieving.
Rodney Rowe, Education Minnesota Secretary-Treasurer
Rodney Rowe was elected secretary-treasurer of Education Minnesota at the Representative Convention in April 2013 and re-elected in 2016.
Rodney spent the last nine years as a member of the Education Minnesota Governing Board. For the last 10 years, he was member rights chair of the Great Southwest United Governing Board, a regional group of Education Minnesota locals. In addition to leadership experience at the state and regional levels, he has extensive experience at the local level. In Worthington, he served as membership chair, a member rights advocate, a member of the Executive Committee and a building representative. In Sleepy Eye, he served as local president, a member of the Negotiations and Government Relations committees, and Grievance Committee chair.
Rodney taught in Minnesota elementary schools for 19 years, co-teaching English language learners for the last three. As Education Minnesota moves forward, he plans to concentrate on how it can use technology more effectively on behalf of members and students.
Ahmi Alvarez is an early childhood special education teacher. She works with babies and families with children who may have a developmental delay. She has been teaching in special education for the past 15 years, and she enjoys many aspects of her job. She lives in Chanhassen with her husband and her 3-year-old son, Tyler, who keeps her busy.
During any spare time Ahmi accidentally gets, she enjoys cooking, napping, and watching movies. Since joining the Education Minnesota Foundation Board, she has enjoyed seeing how creative educators can be when wanting to improve themselves or their classroom. Ahmi has been on the board since 2016.
Julia Berry is a program facilitator and literacy specialist at North Education Center Academy in New Hope, Minn. She previously worked as a Communication Arts & Literature and Special Education-EBD teacher in Intermediate District 287 for 10 years.
She is an anti-white supremacist educator, community member, learner, and mother of two boys. Julia is passionate about utilizing the power of relationships and communication to address our traumatized identities and promote healthy movement. She is confident that explicit dialogue and actions must occur to dismantle our country’s inequitable traditions, beliefs, and systems. Julia is a newly appointed member to the board.
Myriam Castro-Franco has been teaching for 29 years—ten years in her home country, Colombia, and 19 years in various immersion elementary schools in Minnesota. Currently, she teaches at Little Canada Elementary in Roseville. Myriam has Minnesota teaching licenses in English as a Second Language (ESL) and elementary education; she also holds a Master’s degree in educational leadership.
Myriam enjoys being part of the Education Minnesota Foundation Board, and she appreciates in particular the different skills and knowledge each board member brings to the table. Awarding grants, in Myriam’s opinion, is incredibly fulfilling because it helps to facilitate strong relationships amongst grantees and their coworkers, and it allows educators to be innovative with their students. Serving on the board also allows Myriam to have a small personal impact on education for years to come.
Outside of her job, Myriam enjoys traveling with her family. She travels every summer to different parts of the world. These experiences give her a closer understanding of the cultures she visits, and at the same time helps her better support her students and their families. Myriam has been on the board since 2015.
Norm Halsa has served on the board since 2014. He feels the foundation provides members with many opportunities to enhance their education and skills to better serve both students and the education systems in the state. This year is Norm’s last year on the board, as he will retire in May 2018.
Becky Hespen has been a special education paraprofessional with Osseo Area Schools for 26 years, and she is currently on leave from Park Center High School to serve as full-time release president for Education Minnesota Osseo ESP Local 7325. She serves on the ESP Council of Local Presidents. Becky was also a member of the Education Minnesota Educator Policy Innovation Center (EPIC) team that helped write the paper on trauma-informed teaching titled: “From Exclusionary to Restorative: An Intentional, Trauma Sensitive Approach to Interrupting Racial Disparities, Reducing Violence, Strengthening Communities, and Accelerating Student Learning.”
She is involved in union work at the national level through the AFT, and she was recognized by Education Minnesota as ESP of the Year in 2016. Becky has been on the board serving in the ESP At-Large seat since 2007.
Deanna Hron is an elementary teacher in the northern Minnesota community of Deer River. She has taught kindergarten for the past four years. Previously she has also taught first and third grades during her 25 plus years in education.
Deanna enjoys reading and traveling in her free time. She thinks that advocating for students, teachers, and schools is a priority. For Deanna, being a member of the Education Minnesota Foundation Board has been an opportunity to help members fund projects they are passionate about. Deanna has been on the board since 2014.
Angelica Torralba-Olague is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. She has worked in areas of and has passions for college access, service-learning, and social justice. She enjoys learning about different cultures and languages. Angelica loves watching her two boys play sports and traveling with her husband. Angelica is a newly appointed member to the board.
Andrea Vizenor has been an educator in Stillwater for 27 years. In her free time, she enjoys reading a good book, watching heartfelt movies, and spending time with her two adult sons and her husband. Andrea feels fortunate to sit on the Education Minnesota Foundation Board because she thinks it is amazing to watch the dreams educators have for themselves and the students they serve come alive. Andrea has been a board member since 2012.
Sue Westegaard retired in July 2016. She taught mathematics for 45 years—25 years at Montgomery Lonsdale Public Schools (now Tri-City United) and the past 20 years at Hopkins High School. Sue has served on the Education Minnesota Foundation Board since 2007. One night a week, Sue teaches yoga to inmates at the Scott County Jail.