Meet the ISD 728 Equity Specialists

  • ISD 728 Equity Specialists-

    We currently have four educators who contribute to the mission of the district by building bridges at all school sites to promote culturally competent learning environments. Equity Specialists provide services throughout the school district working primarily with students, families and assisting staff members, working to close the achievement gap at all levels. 

    Specialists construct partnerships between families, communities and schools in the elementary levels to develop and implement programs to facilitate cultural exploration and develop awareness. Students in the secondary schools participate in various groups lead by the Equity Specialists to increase understanding of social issues and influences, access to resources and opportunities as well as build capacity for leadership and advocacy for self and others. 

    The ISD 728 Equity and Integration Department is responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating the components of Achievement and Integration for Minnesota under MN Statute 124D.861. The Achievement and Integration for Minnesota is established to pursue racial and economic integration and increase student achievement, create equitable educational opportunities, and reduce academic disparities based on students' racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds in Minnesota Public schools.

     

 Allison Guggisberg

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Allison Guggisberg

Buildings: Rogers Middle, Rogers High, Zimmerman Middle and High School

Allison joined the Equity Specialist team in the Fall of 2013. Prior to working with the Elk River Area Schools, she worked for 14 years with the TRiO programs in Normandale,  Bloomington, Richfield and St. Paul Public Schools. TRiO/GEAR UP Programs work with low-income, first generation students to help them prepare for and succeed in postsecondary institutions. Allison is passionate about teaching the college process, and ensuring equal opportunities for all students. Allison holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Studies Education, from St. Olaf College, and a Master of Arts Degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, from St. Mary's University of Minnesota. She currently has a social studies teaching license.

 Troy Johnson

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Troy Johnson

Buildings: Elk River High, Ivan Sand Community High, Salk and Vandenberge Middle School

Troy joined the Equity Specialist team in the fall of 2007. Prior to working in the School District Troy was employed as a Family Therapist with Catholic Charities Day Treatment Program. He also spent 10 years as a Community Liaison working with immigrant families new to the country. Troy has extensive background working with children and youth. Troy holds a BA in Social Work from SCSU and a Masters in Social Work from the U of M. In his spare time Troy enjoys cutting hair and is a MN Licensed Barber as well as spending time with his children fishing.

 

 Yuko Larson

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Yuko Larson

Buildings: Rogers, Hassan, Otsego, Parker and Twin Lakes Elementary Schools

Yuko began working fulltime as a Equity Specialist for the District in the Fall of 2008. Born in Japan and raised in its education system. Before moving to the USA in 2002 Yuko was a computer instructor for hospitals in the Northern Region. From 2002-2008 Yuko taught Japanese awareness classes through Community Education in St. Cloud and Elk River. Yuko has a k-12 teaching license from Japan where she received her Bachelor of Science degree at Nippon College of Physical Education in Tokyo. Her passion as an educator is to help students learn, enjoy and appreciate similarities and differences among the cultures of the world.

 Sonny (Haixia) Wang

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Sonny (Haixia) Wang

Buidings: Prairie View Middle and Elementary, Meadowvale, Lincoln, Westwood, and Zimmerman Elementary Schools

Sonny was born and raised in China where she was formally trained as a kindergarten teacher. She loved working with kids which led her to a career in television.  She was recruited to host children’s shows and youth programming at the Henan Province television station. This quickly became a fulltime job where she grew as a host and editor for a variety of television programs and news shows.  She came to the U.S. in 2001 and taught Chinese at St Michael Albertville High School for 11 school years. She loves to read, dance, and to take pictures and study photography. Her passion is to work with young people and share her experiences of an immigrant to the U.S.