Introducing the new "Staff Spotlight", a section dedicated to featuring the unique and talented staff of District 742. If you know of someone that would be great to highlight, please contact the communications team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrian Washington is giving back to the District that guided him in his education journey. An Apollo graduate in 1995, Washington moved to St. Cloud from Minneapolis where his family had been living in a gang neighborhood. He started at North Junior High School.
“Moving to St. Cloud saved my life,” says Washington.
Currently, Washington is a security officer at North where he prides himself on his strong connection to many of the students. His own children along with many other children of former classmates attend North.
Since his time with the District, Washington has learned a lot. It started with being a role model to students. He would speak to at-risk teens and share his story.
“I was the one person that didn’t graduate when I was supposed to, so I want to be an example and mentor to kids,” he explains.
On an average day, Washington checks in with about 30 students.
“I’m one of the first faces they see at school,” describes Washington, “so I greet them with a smile.”
Washington helps students calm down to de-escalate situations. Since he heads up all five lunch times at North, he creates incentives for good behavior with treats.
“I try to reward as many kids as possible,” says Washington. “I love it. I’ve really taken a liking to a lot of kids. I’ve received so many letters from kids thanking me for making a difference in their life, that it really helps me as a parent as well. This is the first job that has been so rewarding. Being someone that the kids look up to is priceless.”
When he isn’t making an impact on the lives of kids, his passion is comedy. Washington does stand-up comedy on the side and during the summer months traveling all over sharing his love of laughter. To see any of his upcoming shows visit his Facebook page.
If a student is having a bad day, that frown will turn upside down if he or she is riding on Jon-Scott Johnson’s bus. Between “Candy Fridays,” Bus Bucks and good conversation, there’s no room for anything but a smile.
“I’m the first person they see in the morning. I make sure they see a smile and greet them by name,” describes Johnson. “You can tell some kids don’t have a great start and I want to make sure that they see a smile when they get on the bus.”
This is Johnson’s third year as a bus driver for the District. He started driving after 40 years in city administration.
“After 40 years in a professional career, bus driving is the best job I’ve ever had,” says Johnson. “I just really enjoy the kids. They are so much fun.”
Johnson loves the diversity he has on his bus as well. He and his wife, Lucy, even took Somali language lessons last year to get to know his students better. He loves to greet the Somali families by name and say hello. However, he shares that they also get a chuckle at him speaking their language due to his accent.
Johnson believes that he is very fortunate to have high schools students as his last route of the day. They always have good and meaningful conversations. Of course, they love Bus Bucks and candy Fridays as much as the younger kids.
“Some high school girls gave me a card the other day to thank me for being such a good bus driver,” says Johnson.
It really means a lot to him to Johnson to give back to the community as much as he can, which is why he and his wife, in their spare time, fix-up and repair bikes to donate to Habitat for Humanity, Lutheran Social Services and give bikes to other needy families moving to the area.
“Every kid deserves a bike,” says Johnson.
Johnson is always willing to accept bike donations. He and his wife also fit helmets and bikes to kids as well.
If you don’t see him repairing bikes for kids, you’ll see him on a bike with Lucy on the trails, particularly in Northern Minnesota.
But, most of all Johnson says, “I just try to be a kind, caring Grandpa.”
Kristen Bauer, music teacher at Kennedy, and Kristen Mattick, choir teacher at South, are two members of the choral group 5 Good Reasons. Their passion for music extends beyond the music room.
Bauer has known since she was born, that she would be a music teacher. Her sister and mother are also music teachers.
“My mother was a music teacher and she always came home with a smile on her face,” says Bauer. “Even if she had a rough day, the music always made her smile. Our family was ‘that family’ that gathered around the piano. My grandmother would play and we’d all get together around the piano to sing. It was a scene right out of the movies. That’s how I grew up.”
Bauer has a degree in vocal performance and music education from the College of St. Benedict. She completed her Master of Arts in education in 2012 from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
The instant an opening was available with 5 Good Reasons, Bauer jumped at the chance to join the group.
“I had been bugging Kristen [Mattick] for a very long time to turn 5 Good Reasons into 6 Good Reasons so that I could sing with them,” explains Bauer.
Bauer has never looked back.
“We just love to sing,” smiles Bauer. “You hand us the music and we’ll sing it.”
The group performs a cappella.
Mattick adds that the group performs jazz, musical theater, renaissance, pop, spiritual, gospel and contemporary. They’ve also just recently included some Pentatonix music.
From an early age, Mattick too, knew she loved to sing.
“In third grade, my music teacher told me I had a beautiful voice and told me to sing louder,” says Mattick. “I did and have ever since.”
Through Mattick’s middle years and on to high school, she had the same music teacher and that’s when she got into musical theater and performing.
Mattick went on to earn her degree at the University of Minnesota Mankato. While attending, her professors encouraged her to go into music education.
“I’m glad I did,” says Mattick. “I love working with kids that want to learn and love to perform. Especially, when the light bulb goes off, when they get it.”
The duo share another love outside of musical performance.
“I love to Zumba!” exclaims Mattick. “I actually got Kristen [Bauer] into it.”
“I’m a workout queen,” says Bauer. “I love Zumba and just going to the gym in general.”
In case you don’t see them at the gym, catch an upcoming performance. The next is scheduled for Dec. 11 when they will be the guest performance at the Youth Choral of Central Minnesota.
Pictured above left to right:
Duane Andersen, Kristen Bauer, Jody Martinson, Kristen Mattick, Scott Wachtler
Matt Stockinger is not one to shy away from showing his love and passion for math and science. He is currently teaching coding, chemistry and ninth-grade science.
Some might wonder why coding is associated with a math and science teacher. Stockinger got hooked on computational chemistry while attending St. John’s University. Computational chemistry is a mix of math, chemistry and computers. Scientists in computation chemistry simulate chemistry on a computer by writing (coding) their own simulations.
Stockinger’s adoration of math and science started when he was in high school, which is why he double majored in chemistry and math in college.
"I flipped a coin to decide between chemistry and physics [for a major in college]," laughs Stockinger. "It’s no joke. It landed on chemistry."
Stockinger loves teaching his Apollo High School classes, and although he grooves on coding and science, his favorite part of teaching is the students.
"You’ve got to love students to teach," explains Stockinger.
When advising students considering math or science as a career, Stockinger says, "Take as much math and science as you can in high school. Take classes that challenge you. If you want to be in science, you have to go to college. If you take easy courses in high school, college will be a rude awakening."
Students in his class line up to ask questions. Stockinger is more than happy to answer, assist and direct them. He carries that over into his coaching as well.
Stockinger started the rock climbing club at Apollo last year to share his passion of rock climbing, and is excited to be coaching the club is in its second year. He is hoping to have the team in a competition this year.
Stockinger laughs that his hobby "sort of" counts as science.
Whether in the classroom or on a climb, Stockinger's students reap the benefit of his boundless enthusiasm and skill.