This school year found Grand Meadow welcoming five new teachers to its staff. Read on to get to know those new teachers.
Kandise Drinkall will be teaching 7th, 8th, and 10th grade English at Grand Meadow this year. She was drawn to teaching because she never stops learning. She had debated between teaching English and agriculture for most of her high school years. Ultimately, she chose English because of her passion for teaching literature. In teaching she gets to share her passion for reading, writing and talking about literature. Drinkall shared that she loves the spark in her students’ eyes when she teaches them something new and they understand it.
Drinkall graduated from Crestwood High School in 2017, and earned her Bachelor of Education from the University of Northern Iowa in the spring of 2021. She taught at Lyle Public School for a year before coming to Grand Meadow.
Slow pitch softball is her favorite sport; Drinkall plays it in the summer and sometimes during the fall. She enjoys reading and spending time with her family, husband Cody and their five-year-old daughter Paisley. They are expecting another baby in February. Drinkall and her family live outside of Ostrander.
While Ms. Drinkall readily admits that there are many challenges in teaching, she feels establishing positive relationships with her students to be one of the most important. She looks forward to building strong, positive relationships with her students and coworkers and appreciates the support of her coworkers and administration.
Ms. Drinkall enthused, “I am excited to be teaching in a school that has strong community support. Grand Meadow is a beautiful place, and I am honored to be part of the teaching community here!”
Allison Oian will be the new 7-12 social studies teacher at Grand Meadow; she will be teaching 12th grade government; 7th grade American history and 9th grade world history.
According to Oian, she became interested in education as a career when she had teachers who helped her get to where she is now. She wanted to pay it back. When she tried coaching, she realized how much she loved teaching the game as well and decided to not only teach social studies, but also coach.
Oian graduated from Rushford-Peterson High School and Winona State University. After obtaining her education degree, Allison coached and worked as both a paraprofessional and substitute teacher for the past four years at R-P.
In her spare time Oian enjoys spending time with her family and friends, gardening, fishing, and watching and coaching sports. She is the oldest of four siblings; her sister is a senior at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, and her two brothers currently attend R-P. Oian is residing in the Grand Meadow School District.
Ms. Oian anticipates that her biggest challenge will probably be remembering all of her students’ names. She looks forward to meeting all the new people at Grand Meadow.
Ms. Oian’s goal is that her students will “walk out the door being well-rounded citizens that know both how government functions and the history of not just the United States but the world.”
Leigh Swanson will be teaching 11th grade economics and high school career academies at Grand Meadow this year. Leigh decided to go into the field of education after his time in the Air Force. During that time he trained new troops; watching them grow inspired him to teach as a career.
Swanson grew up in Blaine, Minn., and graduated from Centennial High School there. He joined the Air Force after high school, completed his four-year contract, and then went to St. Cloud University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies and went on to teach for 12 years in Bemidji.
Swanson chose social studies, claiming he’d always been “kind of a history buff.” When he lived in Germany, he’d been able to travel to historical sites which cemented his decision to teach social studies.
Swanson rents a home in Stewartville. He has two boys, ages nine and almost five who attend school at Chatfield. He enjoys anything outdoors (hunting, fishing, hiking, and more!), running his two boys to their activities, and watching sports.
Mr. Swanson’s biggest challenge this year will be developing a new course, Career Academies. He finds it exciting to create that new course and has a goal to help each and every senior accomplish his or her post secondary goals.
Nora Jahn will be returning to Grand Meadow this year to teach K-3 elementary special education; last year she completed her student teaching here.
Both Jahn’s mom and grandma were teachers; she looked up to them and was inspired to teach because of them. She herself has always loved working with children and had known she wanted to become a teacher since childhood.
Jahn graduated from Kingsland Public School in 2019; she graduated from Winona State University in May of 2022. This is her first year of teaching.
While she did not plan to go into special education, Ms. Jahn was drawn to her new position because of her great student teaching experience at Grand Meadow. She loved the school community and wanted to continue to build the relationships she had formed while student teaching, Ms. Jahn shared that she loves the small group setting in special education and enjoys creating connections with each of her students.
In her spare time, Jahn enjoys going on walks, cooking and baking. She and her boyfriend live in Spring Valley. Her parents live just outside of Spring Valley. Her brother lives in Winona where he is attending school; her sister and her husband live in Colorado.
Ms. Jahn shared that her biggest challenge this year has been all the special education paperwork. She is thankful for the help and support from her coworkers.
A welcoming environment in which her students will feel comfortable is Ms. Jahn’s goal this year. She knows such an environment will help her students learn and grow. She is looking forward to working one-on-one and in small groups with her students and getting to know them all better.
Welcome to all the new teachers at Grand Meadow; have a great year!