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agriculture & industry • community • faith & charities Education • down through the years • family & home business & health • life • neighbors • people A PUBLICATION OF THE ALBERT LEA TRIBUNE • FEBRUARY 2014

Ideas and art mix in A.L.

It’s not just a blue-collar town; meet artists embracing community Interviews and photos by Brandi Hagen brandi.hagen@albertleatribune.com

Jennifer Ordalen

to McNally-Smith for some master’s classes because I was feeling stuck.

Q: Tell me about your family? A: My mom is Beth Stadheim Ordalen; my dad is Eddie “Cowboy” Ordalen Jr.; and I have a younger sister, Ahne Ordalen, and her boyfriend is Tad Lunning and their kids Easton and Evie.

Q: What kind of schooling have you had? A: I did a year at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind. I got a vocal scholarship to go there for classical singing. That’s when I decided I didn’t want to continue with classical music, but I still wanted to sing. I came back to Albert Lea to go to Riverland Community College to get my generals done. Then I went to Music Tech, which has turned into McNally-Smith College of Music. I have a bachelor of music in vocal performance. Now I’m going back

May Yahya

have you had? A: I graduated from the American University of Beirut in 2012 with a degree in graphic design. I also interned at Future TV for animation.

acrylic, oil pastels, collages, threedimensional pieces, black and white ink, linoleum, silkscreen, photography, cross hatching, scratch board. Sometimes I tend to forget how many mediums I’ve done. So many artists have a certain style. In my case I like a mixture. I don’t like to limit myself to a medium or a style, although I may be stronger in one or the other.

Q: How old are you? A: 32

Q: How old are you? A: 23

Q: Tell me about your family? A: My husband is Dr. Fadi Yahya. My mom is Nada and my dad Hikmat. I have two older brothers, Kamal and Mazen, and a younger sister, Zalfa. Q: What kind of schooling

Q: What do you do for work? A: I do freelance work like poster design, logos, brochures and magazine layouts. I did the posters and brochures for the Holiday Bazaar. Q: What mediums have you explored? A: I like to experiment. I’ve done

Q: What do you do for work? A: I work in the family business, Stadheim Jewelers, which I also have schooling in. I volunteer as chairwoman of entertainment for Wind Down Wednesday, and I am a freelance musician. When you try to be a musician, or when you are being a musician, you have to wear so many hats. Q: What do you mean by freelance musician?

Q: What is unique about your art? A: You would recognize that I use multiple mediums in one piece. And

A: I sing at weddings and funerals. I also jump in when a band needs a singer. For example, the day after Thanksgiving a friend of mine needed to go back home for Thanksgiving so she said she had a gig for me. I had 12 lead songs to learn in one week. The day of the show, I drove up to the Cities and met everyone for the first time. Then I found out there was choreography. I had to learn it on the spot. You have to tell yourself, “I’ve got this. I’m a rock star.” It doesn’t matter if you 4Ordalen, Page 2

I use recycled items. I like to collect stuff that I know I would reuse in my art. I collect items that bring me back to a moment — a special moment, maybe a sad moment or a happy moment — something that when I look at it it triggers a moment. Q: How long have you been interested in art? A: It’s been with me since I was a child. It’s my passion. That’s the reason I went into graphic design. 4Yahya, Page 2


Page 2 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 23, 2014 • PROGRESS 2014 - people

Ordalen: Define your own success Continued from Page 1 believe it or not, you have to pull it off.

Q: What else have you done as a musician? A: I do some teaching. Then, I have my own music — my own CD — which takes me in different paths. I’ve realized by this age for me, not being general at all, we have to define what success is for ourselves. Q: So what is success for you? A: At one point I thought success was becoming a worldrenowned singer. Yes, that would be awesome. But I am not going to consider myself a failure if I’m not. Success to me is to be able to make at least a parttime income in what I love to do. Q: What are your goals? A: I love working with kids. So maybe teaching, more of it, is in the future. And I still want to be a musician who travels. But instead of maybe the world, but how about we bring it back to America or a five-state region or many tours instead of big tours. That’s totally within my grasp. My goals have been to be able to create an impact with my music, my voice. Q: How long have you been interested in music? A: Since I was about 3 years old. There’s so many people I have had help from and have helped inspire me. Q: Are you only a vocal musician? A: I like to play violin, piano, guitar, and I’m learning to play the ukulele. Q: How many

songs have you recorded? A: I have 12 on my album. Over the years I’ve probably recorded over 150. To be clear, they aren’t mine, I’m just the artist.

Q: Do you think about being a singer and songwriter? A: I’m not comfortable with that. I do that for myself, but I’m not comfortable. I’ll leave that to the others who have a knack for it. Everyone tries to be a singer and songwriter. I’m OK only being a singer. What a sad place it would be if there was all these writers who had this music they couldn’t share with others. I’ll be their vehicle if they’ll be mine.

Q: Tell me about your album? A: My first album, “Cracks in the Concrete,” was such an awesome experience. A really bad experience led into a really good one. I was working on another album with some other people and through them I ended up meeting my producer, Steve Cropper, and some major, major musicians. I was invited to Nashville, and I took the chance. My parents and I went. I started that in the summer of 2008. I released it in the spring of 2010. Q: What genre does it fall into? A: They don’t really know where to put me, which is kind of strange because I think it’s

pretty cut and dry. I think I sound country. If you talk to anybody in the northern half, they will say, “Yep, country.” You take me to Nashville and they say, “You are not country.” They put me in the adult alternative category. Q: What did people think of your album? A: I got four of five stars in one of the biggest U.K. country magazines. I did really well in The Netherlands. And I’m really accepted in Texas. And here, I was really surprised. I threw my first release party at the Bend in the Road. We had over 350 people. It was awesome. Q: What do you like about Albert Lea? A: It’s a great home base. My cost of living is less, and the community is absolutely fantastic. You don’t get the sense of community anywhere in a big city like you do in Albert Lea. We have this niche. We’re so close to actually what I can do. I don’t mind the hourand-a-half drive. Q: Why bring your music back home to Albert Lea? A: There’s tons of musicians here, but because we don’t think things are available we flock to places like the Cities, Rochester or Mankato, somewhere bigger, which leaves this place void. I’ve decided to take the opposite route. I’m going to come here and create it because it’s needed. Q: Where can people find your work? A: I have a website: www.jenniferordalen. com.

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Yahya: Cultures, travel inspire art Continued from Page 1 Q: Where do you like to work on your pieces? A: I turned our front porch into a studio. I like to work when I’m alone. It took me a long time to draw in front of my husband.

Q: Has your work been shown anywhere? A: I have pieces up at the Art Center. I had my first show on Jan. 7. I felt great about it. I was so happy to see people looking at my art and having them ask me questions. I felt that art was for everyone. I like to help people in art and see their point of views and their feedback. Q: What do your pieces mean? A: The whole part of doing my art is not for selling. I do it because this is how I express myself. I find it hard to express myself through words when I’m sad or when I’m happy.

Art by May Yahya

Q: What have people said about your work? A: They like that’s it’s something new in Albert Lea. Mine is more abstract. I don’t know if people will accept it, but I’m happy to introduce a new form of art here. Q: How do you feel about selling your art? A: I really get attached to my pieces. If I don’t sell a piece I still feel good because it’s still a part of me. I’ve never put them for sale before. It’s something new. Q: How did you come to be in Albert Lea? A: I married my husband, Dr. Yahya, and moved here on July 1. Q: Where did you live before Albert Lea? A: My last seven years were in Lebanon. I was born in Austin, Texas, and I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia. And I’ve traveled to England, Turkey, New York, Las Vegas and Greece. I’ve been roaming around all my life from place to place. Q: Where would you still like to go? A: A place I’ve never been is Italy. I would like to go there because I’m inspired by the beautiful culture. Q: What do you like about Albert Lea so far? A: It’s so welcoming. I feel like I’ve been here for so long because the friends make you feel like you’re family.

Because he loved me, He did the dishes, Rubbed my feet, Surprised me with tulips, Took me to musicals even though he didn’t like them, Carried my bags while I did the shopping, Held my hand.

He died of cancer four years ago.

Q: What inspires you? A: I’ve been inspired by different cultures. Traveling has let me have a different perspective. One of the things in those cultures that inspires me is calligraphy. It creates a visual image.

It’s a form by itself other than what it really means. Q: What are your goals? A: My goal is to have my art recognized in bigger cities and have people appreciate and see art in a different way. Art is very subjective. I would love to have my own studio with exhibitions and be well-known. I want people to recognize me as an artist. I have so much more to give. Q: Do you think you’ll stay in Albert Lea? A: Yes. It’s a good start for me. In six months I’ve had my first

exhibition here. And my friends who I haven’t known for very long have encouraged me as an artist. I would love to continue here. Q: Where can people see your work? A: I have a Facebook page called may YA-YA ART.

Because he loved me,

I can stay in our home. I can be here for our children. I can afford to pay for their college education. I can worry about the other things in life besides money.

He still loves me. And he still shows it. Nancy Vanderwaerdt, Agent, LUTCF, FSS 505 Bridge Avenue, Albert Lea 377-0227 • www.nancyvw.net

331 S. Broadway, Albert Lea MEMBER FDIC

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people - PROGRESS 2014 • Sunday, February 23, 2014 • Albert Lea Tribune • Page 3

Amber McCornack Q: How old are you? A: 36

Q: Tell me about your family? A: My boyfriend is Darren Goodman. My daughter is Courtny, and my parents are Sharon and Mike McCornack. Q: What do you do for work? A: I own HeartWaves Studio.

Q: Tell me about your studio? A: I opened on Oct. 8, 2008. HeartWaves Studio opened with the intention of helping the community learn, grow, explore, witness, experience, share and love what feels good to it. My folks are the roots of HeartWaves. They’ve supported everything. They have blessed me with so much unconditional love and freedom. Q: How did you get into this? A: It started with the intention of healing myself first. When I found movement exploration tapped a different side of my body than the logic side did, that’s when I discovered I wanted

Teresa Kauffmann

Technical Institute for graphic design. Then I went to Riverland Community College for an associate’s degree, and finally I received a bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State.

Q: Tell me about your family? A: My parents are Dean and Yvonne Kauffmann. I have two sons, Marty and Rob. Rob is married to Wendy, and they have a son, Travis.

Q: What do you do for work? A: I am the public information coordinator with the city of Albert Lea. I have been with the city for 14 years. I worked in the library for 5 1/2 years. I am also on the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council.

Q: What kind of schooling have you had? A: I originally went to the Austin

Q: What kind of art interests you? A: Photography. In school I did a

Q: How old are you? A: 47

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to help others. Q: So what classes are offered at HeartWaves Studio? A: We have YogArt, pilates mat classes, Thai yoga bodywork, Nia, hot yoga, yin yoga, karuna reiki and emotional freedom technique. Q: Do you teach all of those yourself? A: No. There are others who come in like Judy Jensen, Janna Lehocky-Arbic, Eve Cowan and Terri Bergstrom.

other instructors? A: I never thought about that. This is a shared community. I’ve never thought of HeartWaves as just mine. Q: What inspires you to help others and have your own studio? A: The inspiration was the vision of creating a space that was safe. Creating a place where people could dance, move, create, play and tap into the inner child — that perfect little star that I believe we are all born as. 4McCornack, Page 7

Q: Why open your studio to

variety of things, but photography I can work on the rest of my life. Q: What kind of photography have you explored? A: I’ve done light painting, portrait, studio, landscape and night photography. Q: What have you been working on lately? A: Light painting. You use a pen light and put light where you want it. You can do inanimate objects or people. I’ve tried doing it with a high school senior.

Q: How does light painting work? A: It doesn’t have to be dark to light paint. You can paint light in to make it appear like the sun is shining in a certain spot. Light painting is tough, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I get frustrated. Q: Has your work been shown anywhere? A: I have it on display in my office. There are a few things at Applebee’s in Albert Lea and at a coffee shop in Owatonna where I did my first show. 4Kauffmann, Page 7

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Page 4 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 23, 2014 • PROGRESS 2014 - people

Familiar faces

Prairie Profile portraits of the past year The Albert Lea Tribune began printing its Prairie Profiles series in 2006. At first, they were on Mondays but within the year switched to Tuesdays and have been a regular feature of the publication since then. Each week, the profile allows readers to get to know a member of the community through staff-produced writing and photography.

Jason Niebuhr repairs a computer in his shop in Wells. Niebuhr, who fixes just about everything electronic, has been completely blind since he was an infant. Drew Claussen/Albert Lea Tribune

Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

Allie Bassett, left, and her sister, Charlotte Carroll, were featured in October as they prepared to compete in a pageant.

A positive view

Nothing gets past the blind guy at the repair shop in Wells By Drew Claussen

drew.claussen@albertleatribune.com

Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Scott Brue, a former Mr. Minnesota, recalls his years of pumping iron. He was profiled in March.

Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

The new veterans service officer for Freeborn County, Ron Reule, appeared in a profile in July.

Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

Marie Krikava, profiled in August, was named the Western Fraternal Life Association Fraternalist of the Year.

Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Bill Villarreal, a retired police officer who is a fitness trainer at the Albert Lea Family Y, was featured in October.

Drew Claussen/Albert Lea Tribune

Roland Marquart at one time played baseball with Jackie Robinson in the minors. He was profiled in November.

Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

Sack Thongvanh was featured in May. He started as the assistant city manager for Albert Lea on May 13.

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WELLS — Wells Computer & Electronics’ slogan is “nothing gets past the blind guy.” The business, which has been open in the city’s downtown for 10 years, is owned by Jason Niebuhr. Niebuhr is a jack-of-all-trades: He does computer sales and repair, TV repair and sales, and has recently began doing Dish Network Internet and TV instillation. “It just kind of started out as a hobby,” Niebuhr said. “We just decided in 2003, after I graduated from college, that now’s the time to either find a job or be self-employed.” What’s truly amazing is that Niebuhr does all this without being able to see. He lost both of his eyes to cancer by the time he was 3 years old. “It’s a gift,” Niebuhr said. “I work a lot by sound. I have people who will come in and read the screen to me once in a while.” Jason’s mother, Becky, said that her son often gets accused of having sight. “He doesn’t have any; he’s totally blind,” she said. “But he operates so independently like a sighted person that people can’t believe he’s totally blind.” Niebuhr said that he was an outside person, so he enjoys going out and working with antennas and dishes. He’ll even hop on a roof to repair those things. He has an antique tractor he works on and drives. Becky even had him riding a mini bike when he was younger. “How many mothers would put a blind

child on a mini bike?” she said. “I laugh now because I think, ‘I can’t believe I did that.’ What he would do was he’d drag his toes on the ground. He wore the toes out of his shoes riding the mini bike, because then he could tell where he was. “He’d ride up and down our field driveway with the dog right beside him,” Becky added. “I can’t believe that the dog and him didn’t collide.” His cancer started well before he was 3. His mother said he was diagnosed when he was 4 months old. “He lost his left eye when he was 4 months old and then had radiation for six weeks. By the time he was 3, Jason was blind, and I didn’t know what he was going to grow up to be.” Becky said that many scenarios crossed her mind on how to raise Jason at that point, including sending him to the Minnesota Academy for the Blind in Faribault. She said the most helpful advice she got was from a vision resource teacher in Owatonna. “She started making home visits with Jason when he was 3 years old,” she said. “She told us, ‘Jason is going to go to the public schools. He’s going to be able to stay home and grow up in his home with his mom and dad.’” Becky also said that Mayo Clinic doctors in Rochester also told her to take Jason home and raise him like a normal child as much as possible, which she did. The vision teacher told Becky that it would be important to teach Jason life skills such as

cleaning, laundry and other housekeeping — which led to Jason living by himself today. “He had chores and responsibilities at home,” she said. “He had to dry dishes, and he had to make his bed. I taught him how to dust furniture and how to vacuum. I taught him all those living skills that he was going to need.” Jason’s mother said that even at 3 years old he was interested in electronics and how things worked. “He would take apart his toys to see how they worked,” Becky said. “Because he had a lot of battery-operated toys, and we had to tell him ‘You can’t take your toys apart, Jason, you might not get them back together again.’” When asked how proud she was that her son had not only survived on his own, but thrived and opened his own business, Becky said that she was “pretty proud of him.” “It’s amazing that he has started this business out of the basement of our own home,” she said. “I just can’t believe how busy he is. He’ll call me in the evening and tell me about his day. I’m just amazed on how he’s been able to blossom the business and been able to diversify it.” Becky Niebuhr has always disliked saying that her son has a handicap — she said, “He’s blind; he just can’t see.” Every day Jason walks into Wells Computer & Electronics he proves his mother right, while making a case for sight being overrated, because nothing gets past the blind guy.

Jason Niebuhr prepares to fix a personal computer at his electronics repair shop in Wells.


people - PROGRESS 2014 • Sunday, February 23, 2014 • Albert Lea Tribune • Page 5

The breakfast blokes

Men gather at Hy-Vee daily ‘to solve the world’s problems’

By Sarah Stultz

sarah.stultz@albertleatribune.com

Six days a week for the past 15 years, a group of Albert Lea men have gathered first thing in the morning. Starting at about 7 a.m., the men, ages 65 to 87, order breakfast and coffee from the Hy-Vee kitchen on North Bridge Avenue. Then they meet around a table and talk. And talk. And talk some more. “We all know a lot about Albert Lea,” joked Dale Heilman. “We even come out when it is 20 below zero.” The men said they discuss everything from sports and businesses starting up in the community to stories featured in the newspaper. “But we don’t talk politics or religion,” said Ray Cochlin. “We want to get along.” Heilman said the men already were used to waking up early to go to work before they retired, so they just continued with the routine. They are often out of the house even before their spouses are awake. “We just have a lot of good chatter,” Heilman said. Across the seating area is another group of men — all former employees of the Albert Lea School District. This group, which has about 12 or 13 men, meets Mondays through Fridays at Hy-Vee and Saturdays at Nancy’s Cafe in downtown Albert Lea. A hot topic for this group is also sports, but they enjoy talking about what’s happening around town — including topics such as the Albert Lea City Council, downtown redevelopment and even grammar and punctuation in this newspaper. They said they watched as the new Kwik Trip store was built and have since been watching as the new Hy-Vee Gas store was constructed. The men banter back and forth with each other, carrying on like old-time friends or family.

Ray Cochlin, Dale Heilman John Petersen, Duane Olson , Ron Sorenson, a talk while ea nd Ross Hansen ti Hy-Vee in Ja ng breakfast at nuary. The g roup meets six da ys a grocery store week at the to things going talk about on in town. Sarah S tultz/Albert

Lea Tribune

ool District ert Lea Sch the regulars lb A d re ti e R are among ays employees ating breakfast Mond e e e -V y H at days. through Fri

“We like to solve the world’s problems,” said Paul Cooper, one of the men. The retired educators

said there are other groups that meet regularly at Hy-Vee, including one that meets on a weekly basis.

Hy-Vee, at 2708 Bridge Ave., offers breakfast from 6 to 11 a.m. during the week. The menu includes

options such as hash browns, eggs, toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, pancakes, french toast, omelettes

and chicken-fried steak. There is a buffet from 8 to 11 a.m. on Sundays. Hy-Vee, by the way, sells groceries, too.

The online Albert Lea historians

A group on Facebook reflects on the past

Larry Jensen posted a 1958 newspaper clipping of an advertisement for Skateland when it was first opening. It was touted as “one of the largest roller skating rinks in the entire area.” Skateland became a Pamida and the owner, Jensen’s father, sold the building to Naeve Hospital in 1988, he said. These days, the place is known as Health Reach.

It’s called “You know you are from Albert Lea if …” and it began with that theme but has become a place to post memories of the past. For the sake of the offline world, we repost some recent ones here …

Kevin Boyer, posting a picture of the 2006 demolition of the former Albert Lea High School to make space for a parking lot, commented “School’s out forever.” Many others shared their memories of their time in the building and the effort to save it.

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Kevin Boyer posted a picture of a car jumping a truck. Keeping with the “You know you are from Albert Lea if …” theme, he posted, “You went to Joie Chitwood’s thrill show at the fair.” That prompted “awesome!” comments, and one who said, “I just hated the cool cars getting wrecked.”

Teresa Weigel posted a photo of her father, Albert Lea Police Department detective John Weigel, testing out a new camera for booking photos, also called mug shots. The signs indicate the photo was taken in 1970. John Weigel retired in 1972 after 26 years with the force. One comment maker said, “I will never forget him … great guy and cop!”

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Page 6 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 23, 2014 • PROGRESS 2014 - people

Happy to be blue

Glenville-Emmons standout now plays for Riverland By Micah Bader

micah.bader@albertleatribune.com

AUSTIN — Andrew Lau is still sporting blue and white on the basketball court. The 2011 GlenvilleEmmons High School graduate is the starting small forward for the Riverland Community College men’s basketball team, and he’s made an impact. Through the first 15 games of the season, he led the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding. He averaged 17.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Those numbers are reminiscent of his days as a Wolverine, where he averaged 21.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and led GlenvilleEmmons to the Section 1A West Division final in 2011 by beating Bethlehem Academy before falling to Goodhue — its furthest postseason run to date. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, Lau is dangerous because he can connect from beyond the arc and at the rim, Riverland head coach Scott Koenigs said. “He’s had some tremendous dunks, just posterizing people,” Koenigs said. “He’s a good athlete, and he can

really get off the floor.” Changing gears from high school to college, Lau said his biggest challenge was keeping up with the speed of the game. “People my height are able to dribble as well as the point guards, some if not better,” he said. “And, it’s a lot more physical.” Lau said he doesn’t model his game after a specific player, rather he aims to emulate a patchwork of moves from the best players he’s seen. “I try to take bits and pieces from everyone,” he said. “You see one good thing that they can do, and you want to get that down and then get something down from someone else.” Post players at the college level need to be able to handle the ball well, which is something Lau said he’s been working on. “I need to be able to take care of the ball, so that if I have to play a guard, I can take the ball up the court,” he said. Because Riverland is a two-year institution with no athletic scholarships, many players go on in their junior and senior years to play for NCAA Division II and III and National Association of

Andrew Lau, a 2011 graduate of Glenville-Emmons High School and a former basketball player for the Wolverines, stands in the Riverland Community College gymnasium on Jan. 13. Lau plays small forward for the Blue Devils. Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Intercollegiate Athletics four-year programs. “Andrew’s a guy who has the potential to be a Division II guy, depending on the school he wants to go to,” Koenigs said. “He’s got some NAIA schools out there putting some (scholarship) money out for him. He’ll definitely get a scholarship; it’s just where he chooses to play next.” If anyone could evaluate an athlete’s

potential, it would be Koenigs. His office is adorned with memorabilia from Riverland, of course, but also from the Kansas City Royals. In addition to his third season as the Riverland’s men’s basketball coach, Koenigs led the Riverland baseball program for the last 11 years, and he is a scout for the Kansas City Royals. Lau said he doesn’t mind which Division II school he goes to, he just

wants to play basketball and have affordable tuition. Lau and Koenigs agreed that Lau’s game has come a long way since he began his college basketball journey. One of his biggest improvements was an increase in comfort level on the court, Koenigs said. “When we got him, he played nervous,” he said. “He never really got to where he could

get because of that, but I think he’s over that.” Getting over that hurdle made Lau a better all-around player, Koenigs said. Lau said he’s been playing basketball since fourth grade and said he comes by his skill honestly. Both his parents were three-sport athletes at Glenville-Emmons High School. However, he’s the first member of his family to play a sport in college.

Thriving in business and education Jeff Halverson, the secondary programs administrator at Albert Lea High School, stands in the school’s gymnasium. Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

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His job is to increase the career readiness of ALHS students By Micah Bader

micah.bader@albertleatribune.com

Jeff Halverson is like an experienced photographer. He sees the world through many lenses. However, he doesn’t physically swap lenses of different focal lengths and apertures. Halverson is the secondary programs administrator at Albert Lea High School, and he peers through the metaphorical lens as a student, teacher, administrator, coach, father and real estate broker. Halverson was hired at ALHS Aug. 19 to increase college and career readiness of graduates. “My role has been to look at our high school programming and see what we can do to better meet the needs of our learners across all levels,” Halverson said. To that end, Halverson is looking to schedule meetings with recent graduates during their semester break and will send online surveys to find out how ALHS prepared its students for the next level. “Student feedback back is very important,” he said. “Right now, I’m heavy into fact-finding. I’ve been doing a lot of research looking at test scores.” In programs the high school posted high scores, Halverson said he wants to reinforce how the teachers and students got there. In areas that need help, he’ll review other schools for ideas. “We’ll take a look at how we might adapt and hybrid some programs of interest from other schools to benefit our community,” Halverson said. After about four months on the job, Halverson’s favorite part is interacting with people in the area. “I thoroughly enjoy working with the people here in Albert Lea,” he said. “It’s a very engaging job, and it’s a very unique position.” The position at ALHS was made available through a state legislative pilot grant, which lasts for two years. After that, Halverson isn’t sure what the future will bring. “I know if I come prepared, organized and give it my best shot that whatever takes place in year three will take care of itself — whatever that may be.” he said. Halverson has a résumé to fall back on. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia College in 1998, he pursued the path to become a teacher. “I decided I wanted to find a career that I could find some meaning and purpose in,” he said. “I want to make a difference in the lives of others.” Halverson earned a Master of Education from the University of

Minnesota in 2001 and became a business and technology teacher at Mound Westonka High School in Minnestrista, where he taught five classes and more than 140 students daily. Halverson held that post from 2001 to 2005, and in those last two years he also taught three semesters of economics for managers at Crown College in St. Bonifacius. From 2001 to 2004, he was an assistant varsity girls’ hockey coach at Mound Westonka High School. In 2005, Halverson left teaching to start a real estate brokerage called Minnesota Homefront. He hired and directed a sales and administrative team that closed 140 contracts and negotiated sales of residential properties ranging from $86,000 to $680,000. The business delivered $36 million in sales volume. However, Halverson decided to get back to his educational roots in 2010 at Eastern Carver County Schools in Chaska and Chanhassen where he became an administrative intern as a part of his University of Minnesota administrative licensure coursework. In 2011, he moved on to Medford High School as a business and technology education teacher until he took the job at Albert Lea. Halverson resides in Owatonna with his wife, Allie, and three children: Michael, 7; Grace, 5; and Luke, 3. “With three young children, my hobbies are pretty much being a dad and loyal husband,” he said with a smile. “My wife taught science for seven years and she’s currently a stay-athome hero.” Other hobbies Halverson enjoys are reading fiction by authors like Vince Flynn and educational material from Michael Fullan, Anthony Muhammad, Jim Knight and Carol Dweck. Since Halverson grew up in Owatonna, he’s aware of the TigersHuskies rivalry, but he said that didn’t impact his decision to take the job. “I’d like to think of our communities as being more than just sports communities,” he said. After teaching 25 classes in two high school districts and Crown College, Halverson said his administrative work is modeled after not one individual, but trends he found in a combination of individuals he looked up to. “The theme that I’ve noticed is that they all treat people fairly, they treat people in a professional manner, they’re good communicators, they look at everything with the lens of what’s best for our students and they remember that at the end of the day, our schools are here to serve our community,” Halverson said. “That’s what I try to emulate.”

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people - PROGRESS 2014 • Sunday, February 23, 2014 • Albert Lea Tribune • Page 7

McCornack: Art and yoga blend well

Continued from Page 3 Q: What is the reaction to your classes and your studio? A: The reaction has been, “Where has this gem been?” The reactions are awesome, especially with the art.

Images by Teresa Kauffmann

Q: What do you mean the art? A: I look at the body as art to begin with. But I have a class called YogArt. It’s an eightweek session. The very last day of that class we incorporate an actual art project together as a community or individually. I started it about a year ago. Q: Why did you decide to incorporate art and yoga? A: I love art. In me, I see the process of how it heals me. I taught art classes for kids for a while through St. Theodore Catholic School. It was interesting to witness how kindergartners are uninhibited, don’t look at the other people’s work and dive right into their art. As the years go on, it saddened me to witness more comparative work. Q: So what kind of art are you creating? A: Painted canvases, silk scarves, body tracing, finger painting, Mason jar votives, wax melting art and water art. Whatever sparks me or inspires me I bring it in. Q: What did your students think about the art portion? A: I think the students think, “What

Art by HeartWaves Studio students

are we doing?” But it’s about teaching them to believe in their selves. Q: What do you get out of sharing this experience with your students? A: Joy. It reminds me that we’re bonded, that we’re all one. It is inspiring to see myself in them. Q: What is the demographic of your students? A: I get all ages. When I teach Nia I mostly get the younger generations, but when I teach yoga I get all ages. There’s no limit to who can do yoga. Q: What are your goals?

A: I don’t have goals because it’s like shooting an arrow and missing the mark. I have dreams. Q: What are those dreams? A: Expansion is one of them. I would love to be able to do workshops on the weekends. I also have the desire to take HeartWaves on the road. Q: Where can people find out more about HeartWaves Studio? A: I have a website: www.heartwavesstudio. com, and I also have a Facebook page. The studio is at 315 Adams Ave. in Albert Lea.

Are you a coach or parent with youth sports? Submit results and photos to: tribsports@albertleatribune.com

Kauffmann: Photo group formed Continued from Page 3 I also did a show at Art Underground with Julie Bronson in the historic Bessessen Building on Broadway. Then in August, I had a show at Prairie Wind Coffee of my light painting. Q: What have people said about your light painting images? A: They have been excited. There’s been so much chatter. Q: What makes you tick? A: I like just being around people with the same interests. That’s why I helped start a photo group. Q: Tell me about the photo group? A: It’s an informal photography group in

Albert Lea that meets at 1 p.m. the first Saturday of each month at Prairie Wind Coffee. There is a Facebook page where members can post photos and have discussions. Q: What are your goals? A: I want to continue getting better. The group has sort of turned into a monthly workshops where I teach. I still have a lot to learn and definitely don’t have all the

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Page 8 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 23, 2014 • PROGRESS 2014 - people

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PROGRESS 2014 - People