Whoever said homecoming has to last just one weekend in autumn? For one group of Osseo Area School District educators, this school year has been one big homecoming celebration. We got to chat with four teachers and administrators who returned to Osseo this year after being away for a while, traveling, studying or just trying their hand at something new. What’s one thing they all have in common? They are pretty darn thrilled to be back.
The Difference Maker:
First Grade Teacher, Zanewood Elementary
Melissa Engel has a deep connection to the district she calls home—she grew up in Maple Grove and graduated from Osseo Senior High. In addition to studying music in high school, she also worked for the Brooklyn Park parks and recreation department during her summers. “We worked a lot [with kids] in a low-income area,” she remembers. “That experience was what led me to go into education…because I wanted to make a difference.” After teaching in Minneapolis for ten years, Engel has returned to her hometown to teach first grade at Zanewood. “The staff is awesome, very friendly. The kids are really curious, and they want to be there,” she says.
Engel calls the transition “amazing.”
The International Academic:
International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program Coordinator, Park Center Senior High
As an advisor to Osseo’s International Baccalaureate students—those who use internationally recognized tests and curricula to prepare for college—Jon Eversoll has seen many corners of the world. But when he was offered a short-term teaching job at the American International School in Vienna, Austria, he couldn’t resist. Eversoll and his wife Mary were excited for their young kids, Soren and Solvej, to get a taste of European school and culture. “There were kids from 50 countries [at our school],” he says. Though the family loved their time abroad, Eversoll is happy as ever to be back at Park Center where things aren’t as “American” as you might think. “What’s cool about being back is just being with my students who are from everywhere. They’re from Southeast Asia, from the US, from Africa, from central America, from all over the world. [Osseo] has rich diversity and kids with lots of stories. I’m very happy to be teaching them and working with them.”
District Human Resources Executive Director
After spending several years as the Human Resources director for Rochester Public Schools, Judy McDonald is back in Osseo, where she got her start almost ten years ago as an assistant director. “Lo and behold, the position at Osseo came open in the fall of 2012…and I was drawn back,” she explains. “I wanted to give back…I felt that Osseo had invested a lot of time and energy in me. I am so proud to be part of the leadership team at Osseo.” After working in several districts around the state, McDonald is confident that Osseo is the most forward and mission driven. “There’s a lot of forward thinking and future planning,” she says fondly. “We’re ahead of the curve…that’s what we call the Osseo Way. It’s kind of a culture here.”
The Horizons Expander:
Physical Education Teacher, Edinbrook Elementary
“My wife and I were both born and raised in Minnesota, and really never did any traveling,” says Doug Anderson. A few years ago, after hearing about and applying for a successful teach-abroad program, the couple decided it was “now or never”. They were selected to teach at the Universal American School in Hawally, Kuwait, where they ended up spending two years. “It was an incredible experience,” Anderson says fondly. “You understand that the world’s not as big as you think it is.” Before retiring this spring, Anderson decided to return for one more year in Osseo—and he’s brought a few lessons back with him. “No matter where you teach, kids are kids. Give them enough room and they’ll get into trouble,” he says with a laugh.