Introducing Alissa Case

New enrichment coordinator aims to empower students


Used with permission from Alissa Case.

Tenzin Gyaldatsang and Sam Listiak

Why did you decide to come to Park?

The mission vision of the district was the reason why I applied for a job here. I like the work on racial equity that the district has been doing for the last several years, but when the School Board shifted the policy to be explicit on centering values of racial equity, making sure that we are thinking about seeing, inspiring and empowering every learner’s brilliance, I felt like that bold statement was the community I wanted to be a part of.

What are your duties as an enrichment coordinator?

Here at the high school, my role entails professional development, working with teachers to be thinking about ‘how does the mission live inside every single one of our classes? What does it look like to make sure we’re centering culturally-relevant pedagogy? What does it look like to make sure every student has access to rigorous and excellent and equitable opportunities?’ And so part of that is IB and AP, part of that is working with students and figuring out what doesn’t exist that they want, what it looks like to center student experience and voice in determining what enrichment looks like and what the multiple opportunities are that are really rooted in the students’ desires. At the elementary and middle school level, the district decided based on student feedback (as well as) student data interns, who did research over the course of the past few summers, (that the) programming of gifted and talented (was a cause of) racial disparities. So they said, if our mission is to see, inspire and empower the brilliance of every learner, we need to make sure that every student has access to enrichment. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Two things. Thing number one: honestly the best part of my days so far is standing at the front door greeting folks and just getting to see students and seeing everyone settle back in to figuring out how we do this together again since we were in distance (learning) last year. Number two (is) starting to see the brilliance and bold teachers and students in our community and figuring out how to center all of those strengths.

Why did you decide to go into the education field?

This is my 20th year in education. I started in a high school classroom, and I think in general something that is similar from what I’ve believed when I started, still to what I believe today, is that schools have the potential to be spaces of justice and liberation, and if we are engaging and centering our students’ voice and their wisdom, and we’re really leaning into believing that our students are agents of social change, that school is the place to be if you want to participate in a community that is centered on justice and shifting our world and our relatives of people. 

What past experience have you had in the education field?

I’ve been in both K-12 and higher ed. In K-12 I started out in a high school social studies classroom, and then I went to St. Mary’s University, where I was the director of the culturally-responsive teaching program there. Then, I went and did my graduate work at the University of Minnesota. When I was doing my PhD at the University of Minnesota, I was also teaching in their elementary education program, teaching future teachers. After I graduated there, I went to Northeast Metro 916, which is an intermediate district on the east side of town. Minneapolis, St. Paul, Anoka (and) Hennepin, large school districts, can provide to all students since they have a large revenue base because they have a lot of students, but smaller districts can’t afford to provide all programming that all students need, so intermediate districts are created to pool resources together from member districts so that if a student needs something (such as) special education services, care and treatment, and alternative learning center high schools in their home district, they can go to the member district. I was the equity coordinator of Northeast Metro 916 before I came here.

What has been your favorite teaching/education experience?

I don’t know if I (have a) favorite. I think that every teaching experience is different because it’s centered on building communities with students you are with in that space. There hasn’t been a teaching experience that I haven’t enjoyed.