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Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Two campuses, one community—one Midway family’s story

Posted on 06 February 2018 by Calvin

Hamline Elementary School Column By JESSICA KOPP
Hamline Midway residents Wendy and Byron Kieser have had kids enrolled at Hamline Elementary (formerly Hancock) for seventeen years, and though the school’s name has changed, some teachers remain as does the same strong sense of community.

Like many people choosing a school for the first time, they asked their friends for guidance. When someone suggested Hancock, they weren’t sure but decided to go to the open house. They were impressed with the classrooms and programs the school offered and decided to try it.

When asked why they stayed, Wendy says, “We stayed because the teachers and staff quickly became an important part of the community that our entire family belonged to, not just the kids.” She was also excited about the Hamline to Hamline Collaboration, “It’s an amazing asset to Hamline students; it provided so many extra experiences from being on the Hamline University campus for swimming, mock trial, performing in Sundin Music Hall, to the tutors, and other university students that work in the classrooms.”

Photo right: Joe Kieser, age 5, spent his entire elementary education under the cooperation between Hamline Elementary and Hamline University. (Photo provided)

The Kiesers sent all six of their children to Hamline for kindergarten and Carol Schjei, still a kindergarten teacher there, taught them all. Four of the Kieser children spent all their elementary years at Hamline and at the end of this year, the family will attend their final Hamline Elementary “graduation,” but that doesn’t mean the family is leaving Hamline. Their son, Joe, has come full circle in this community—first as an elementary student and now as a Hamline University freshman, majoring in mathematics.

Photo right: Joe Kieser, age 18, is now a student at Hamline University. (Photo provided)

It’s easy for Wendy to see the arc. “Joe started at Hancock in 2004 and had creative and experienced teachers throughout; they kept him motivated and challenged. He made friends there that he still has today and because they all lived in the neighborhood, they were able to do things together in and out of school.”

Joe sees the value of a shared community, too. “The connection to Hancock helped me to get my first job at Hancock Rec Center,” Joe said. “It was a comfortable environment, I was familiar with the building, and it was close to home. It made working at Hancock Rec a great first job. I have been back to Hamline Elementary this year doing service learning projects, and it is great to still see some of my former teachers at the school.”

I asked Joe to tell me more about his journey from one side of Snelling Ave. to the other.

Favorite memory?
“My favorite memory of Hamline University as a Hancock student is getting to eat in Sorin Hall. As an elementary student, an endless buffet was very appealing. I also remember working on special projects with Mrs. Grostephen and going to the university campus for mock trial and swimming.”

Favorite teacher?
“My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Nguyen. She taught me many things about integrity and working hard. She was a good teacher because she knew when it was time to learn and when it was time to let kids be kids.”

Why Hamline University?
“I chose Hamline University because it’s close home, has a small but close community, and of course going to Hancock allowed me to spend quite a bit of time on campus which made important connections to me as an adolescent. So far, my experience at Hamline has been wonderful. Both the staff and my fellow students are very open and inviting which just builds such a great community. “

As a former Hamline (Hancock) Elementary student, Joe applied for and received the Hamline to Hamline Collaboration Scholarship. Only students who have attended the school and are planning to attend Hamline University are eligible. You can learn more about this scholarship and the partnership between Hamline University and Hamline Elementary at www.hamline.edu/offices/wesley/hamline-to-hamline-collaboration.