Alumni Spotlight – Larry K.

From the Takoda Institute, to CEO and radio host, our alum Larry K is proof of a Takoda education in action.

Larry K, a proud member of the Ho-Chunk nation, graduated from Takoda Institute’s former Administrative Professional program in the nineties, and since then has taken a path straight to success.

After graduation, Larry K worked at Mystic Lake Casino as a Computer Integrator Manager and then started his own business, Two Buffalo Roofing and Siding Systems. After 10 years of successful business, Larry moved his business to Florida, where he’s now the President and CEO of Two Buffalo Construction Supplies. That’s not all Larry is up to – since 2000 he’s been the host of Indigenous in Music with Larry K, a nationally-syndicated radio show that highlights Indigenous musicians.

You can listen to Indigenous in Music with Larry K here.

Takoda GED is Open to All Adult Learners

Did you know that Takoda GED offers educational opportunities for adults who already have a high school diploma or GED?

Here are some ways that we could help you…yes, YOU!

Prepare for postsecondary training.

Takoda Institute (as well as many other postsecondary programs) requires all students to take the TABE test in reading and math. Some programs have minimum required scores for enrollment. We can help you review or relearn skills so you can raise your scores and enroll in the program of your choice.

Study for the Accuplacer.

All Minnesota State colleges and universities administer the Accuplacer placement test to incoming students. Higher scores on the Accuplacer can help you save time and money by allowing you to “test out” of lower-level reading, writing, or math courses. Our teachers and tutors will work with you to develop a stronger foundation in literacy and math concepts so you can feel truly ready to begin college.

Explore careers and get ready for employment.

Takoda GED offers a no-cost employment readiness workshop every Monday. Workshop topics include setting goals, getting organized, identifying your transferable skills, crafting resumes and cover letters, handling stress, and managing money. We have a full-time academic and career Navigator on staff to help you find your path to professional success. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ll help you learn about careers that interest you.

Get computer-savvy.

Forgot your email password? Can’t type with more than two fingers? Don’t know the difference between a Word doc and a spreadsheet? You are not alone! We will meet you where you are and help you gain confidence performing everyday tasks with computers. We also offer the opportunity to earn Northstar Digital Literacy certificates in areas such as Windows, Microsoft Word and Excel, Social Media, and Information Literacy.

Help your kids with their homework.

Maybe “new math” gives you a headache, reading aloud to your kids is a struggle, or you’re stumped by their science or social studies questions. All three Takoda GED teachers are licensed K-12 educators who are happy to help with homework issues. As an extra bonus, we can provide coupons for discounted admission to the Science Museum of Minnesota!

Become more involved with your community.

We regularly read about and discuss current events that affect you and your community. Learn how you can make a difference on issues that matter to you.

To learn more about Takoda GED and enroll, contact Sára Kaiser at or 612-341-3358 x153.

Students Improve Reading Scores through D.E.A.R.

UPDATE: Students participating in Takoda Prep’s D.E.A.R. program continue to improve reading scores and grow interest in fiction and non-fiction texts.

Christy Hicks, Takoda Prep Instructor

Back in November, we told you all about our daily reading challenge, Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.). Now, in March, students are still committed to their time spent reading, Lexile readability, and learning new critical reading skills. Over the course of the year, 16 of 23 students who have taken the assessment at least twice have improved their score. We are so proud of the students’ dedication to their readability level. Seven students who have been at Takoda since the beginning of the year have also moved up a percentile rank (which determines if they need urgent reading intervention). For those students who still have some work to do, we are committed to helping them one-on-one to grow as readers and critical thinkers.

Beyond the assessment, students have also spent a great deal of time reading silently. Among several other recommendations for improved reading programs, research shows that students need extended time for literacy, diverse texts, and self-directed learning. Students at Takoda Prep are provided with these integral aspects daily. Even with the weather-related closures our school has faced this quarter, students have still spent over 40 hours reading during our morning D.E.A.R. class since the beginning of February. They have also found themselves reading new texts from our growing classroom library and have requested many more high-interest novels.

Finally, the self-direction of the D.E.A.R. programs allows students of all levels and interests find success in our one-room schoolhouse. Students recommend books to each other, engage in chatter about stories they encounter, and problem-solve challenging texts.

Some of the books Takoda Prep students absolutely love include the Bluford Series (various authors), The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and poetry by Rupi Kuar.

Juana builds a career to support her family

Juana enrolled in Takoda Works’ BUILD program to build skills and find employment.

Samantha Fairbanks, Social Worker 

Juana, a mother of two, was working at McDonalds for 9 years. She eventually earned a manager position making $12.05 an hour, but Juana wanted to build a career—somewhere she could make enough money to support her family.  

Juana came to Takoda through the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), and she was referred to the BUILD program by her case manager. The BUILD program is an intensive work program to help Native youth build work and life skills. The first 7 weeks consisted of life skills training and work ethics. The participants were then placed into a 9-week internship in the community.  

Juana was a great asset to the program. She was always on time and prompt and eventually began helping staff set up programming. She even took it upon herself to organize the BUILD program’s graduation party. She was always willing to help. In addition to the BUILD program, Juana completed Takoda Institute’s IT Fundamentals course and earned an industry certificate in Customer Service. 

The internship is where Juana started to bloom. She organized her own internship with Baby Space where she helped watch the children and did office work on the side. Her supervisor spoke very highly of her and always gave her an excellent review. From the beginning, her supervisor knew she wanted to hire Juana to work for Baby Space. She told their board, “if we don’t hire her, someone else will.”  

As soon as her internship ended, Juana was hired on full time as an Administrative Assistant at Baby Space making $15 an hour. She has been with Baby Space for over 2 months and eventually will begin training in Early Childhood education with the company to expand her career.  

 Takoda and the BUILD program not only helped Juana prepare for a career, but helped her find a job in a company that values her growth and potential. “Thank you for telling my story. I really appreciated everything you did for me and bettering my life for my little family,” says Juana.