From Student to Instructor: Amy’s Story

Amy’s commitment as a student helped her land an instructor role at Takoda, where she’s inspiring students just like her.

Amy’s time at Takoda began back in 2011. She enrolled in the former Nursing Assistant program and then got a job at Southview Acres in St. Paul, where she worked for 5 years. With an interest in the medical field, she enrolled in the Patient Services Specialist (PSS) program in 2015. She then enrolled in the Computer Support Specialist (CSS) program to pair her medical experience with IT skills. Now, Amy is an instructor at Takoda, hoping to give students the same experience she had.

Amy chose Takoda because the classes were short and offered at no-cost, but it was the support from students and staff that kept her coming back.

“I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish without the support of my cohort,” she says. “I was a mother, going to school full time, on public assistance – that made everything 10 times more difficult. At lunch, my cohort would ask why I wasn’t eating. I would tell them that my food stamps hadn’t come in yet. That all the food I had was for my children. They would share their food so I could focus in class.”

“I tried to do traditional college,” says Amy. “It didn’t feel supportive. When I was there with my other classmates they were there to go to class and get out. No one cared about their other classmates. Here, we were together all the time and just became family. The smaller class sizes helped a lot too because I was able to get one-on-one help from instructors.”

The staff at Takoda work diligently to help students succeed. With Amy, it was no different. “I was in a car accident the day before I was supposed to take my state board exams to get my Nursing Assistant certification. The Takoda Institute director helped me reschedule. When I finally took the exam, my instructor took the time to meet me at the Red Cross and wait for me to finish taking the test. She said, ‘you didn’t get to take it with the rest of your classmates. I’ll stay here with you and wait until we find out if you passed,’” Amy said.

“I had to sacrifice a lot to be here,” says Amy, “but it was worth it.”

After earning her PSS certificate, Amy got a paid internship at the Department of Indian Works, was hired as a Health Unit Care Coordinator and was then hired at the Native American Community Clinic.

Amy stayed in contact with faculty and staff at Takoda, and during her third pregnancy, she encouraged her to enroll in Takoda’s Computer Support Specialist (CSS) program. Her instructors noticed how quickly Amy caught on to the learning material and saw her potential to combine her experience in the medical field with IT training.

During the CSS program, she was forced to go on bedrest and couldn’t attend class. “When I didn’t show up for a few days, my instructors called me on a conference call to check in on me. They said, ‘Amy, are you okay? Are you coming to class?’ When they found out I was on bedrest, they found me a laptop so I could work on coursework from home,” says Amy.

Amy’s unique set of skills in healthcare and IT make her an asset in either industry and she is currently sharing those skills as an instructor at Takoda. Amy teaches Customer Service, ServSafe Manager and Food Handler, Keyboarding, and Intro to Microsoft Office. She says her experience as a student informs how she works with students. “I act as an advisor too. I help students with questions and work with other instructors to share my experience as a former student,” she says.

“People ask me how I continue to get such good paying jobs,” says Amy. “I tell them, ‘I came to Takoda.’ I dedicated 6 months of my life to going to school and it paid off.”

Why Takoda GED?

It’s true that many Metro-area schools and organizations offer no-cost GED preparation, but Takoda GED is unique.
We’re flexible.

Takoda GED is a drop-in program.  We don’t have traditionally scheduled classes with mandatory attendance.  This means that YOU are in charge of when you study.  We understand that you have a lot going on in your life and that your schedule might be different each week—even each day!  As long as the building is open (almost all weekdays from 9 am to 4:30 pm), you are welcome in our classroom.  We strongly encourage our students to set a regular schedule, but we also know that life happens.  If you have to take time off, we will be happy to see you when you return.

We’re small.

Takoda GED is a “one-room schoolhouse” within American Indian OIC.  You won’t have to walk into a huge building, go up flights of stairs, or search for the right room in a maze of hallways.  You won’t have a different teacher or need to worry about different expectations for each class.  All of our students work on all subjects at all levels together in one classroom.  You won’t get lost here!

We welcome everybody.

Though Takoda is based in a Native organization, all are welcome to receive education, training, and employment services. Takoda GED is no different. In fact, many non-Native students tell staff they enjoy learning about Native culture and traditions, and Native students enjoy experiencing the various cultures of their fellow classmates.

We get to know you.

Takoda GED staff and volunteers almost always work with students one-on-one.  We know that all students and their circumstances are unique, so we don’t expect everyone to work towards their GED the same way.  When you enroll in our program, we take the time to talk with you and learn about your past experiences and future goals.  We use what you tell us to create a study plan that is personalized just for you.

We care about your opinions.

What do you think?  Your ideas matter here.  Our teachers work to find information and create assignments that are interesting and meaningful to you.  A few of the issues we’ve covered lately include opioid use, the Navigation Center for residents of the Franklin Hiawatha Encampment, the importance of voting and the Minneapolis 2040 plan.  If there’s a topic you want to learn about, let us know!

We help you with academic content as well as other issues that get in the way.

Reading, writing, and math probably aren’t the only challenges you’ve ever faced.  We know that our students also want to enter living-wage employment, pursue higher education, care for their children and families, use computers with confidence, have safe and stable housing, manage their money effectively, and achieve good physical and mental health.  Although our staff and volunteers aren’t experts in all of these areas, we will work with you to look for resources and solutions.  Sometimes you might just need some food or a little caffeine…so we provide free coffee and snacks!

We help you figure out where to go next… and give you the individual support you need to actually get there.

Earning your GED is important, but it won’t be the end of your journey.  We work with many students who already have a GED or high school diploma to help them prepare for their next steps.  We can connect you to other programs within American Indian OIC, like employment services and training for in-demand careers at the Takoda Institute.  We’re also happy to help you figure out how to apply to college, prepare for tests like the Accuplacer, or explore other options that will meet your education or employment plan.

In short, if you’re ready to commit to working towards your goals, Takoda GED is committed to helping you reach them.  Contact our Navigator, Sára Kaiser, at sarak@takoda.org or 612-341-3358 to enroll now.

Takoda Prep is Now Enrolling for Third Quarter

Takoda Prep is accepting students for third quarter, which begins on January 28th.

Takoda Prep is a great alternative for those who had not had success in the traditional school setting. As a contract alternative high school under contract with Minneapolis Public Schools we focus on helping students make advancements in reading, writing, and mathematics, while maintaining a strong connection to American Indian Culture.

Takoda Prep students celebrating the unveiling of their mural and outdoor classroom.

What makes Takoda Prep unique is the small class environment that allows students and staff to feel closely connected which leads to more individualized instruction and support. Student s are encouraged to observe a class or even a full day to ensure that Takoda Prep is the right fit.

The first step is to set up a meeting with the Education Director,  Chris Hubbard at 612-341-3358 ext. 158. During that time we can review your credits, tour the school, answer your questions and go over any necessary paperwork.  Please feel free to visit our Facebook page to see what Takoda Prep students and staff have accomplished this year!