Our Graduates are Shaping the Future

  • Alexandria Public Schools is proud of the accomplishments of our graduates and their contributions to their profession, community and society. We are excited to share these alumni profiles with our district family and the community in a new Alumni Profiles blog series.

  • Katie Lovrien, Class of 2011

    Posted by Jill Johnson on 2/6/2019 4:00:00 PM

    When Katie Lovrien was in school in Alexandria, she knew there would always be someone there to support her and answer any questions she had.K Lovrien

    “There were always people to go to,” said Katie, a 2011 graduate of Jefferson High School. “They were there to support kids. I felt that connection with my teachers in Alexandria, and I would like to be that for the kids I have now.”

    Katie attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, where she planned to major in sociology/anthropology, but a conference on social work changed her mind.

    “I was interested in people and cultures, but I wanted the practical career focus. Social work was more about working with people and not so much the academia,” she explained.

    Katie changed her major and earned a bachelor of arts degree in social work. Her first job was with Tackling Obstacles Raising College Hopes (TORCH), a college access program she had interned with in college. For a year she worked with high school students, helping them with homework, filling out college applications, and providing encouragement to further their education.

    Katie then worked at Lutheran Social Services (LSS) licensing foster families, which involved home visits and providing training for families to ensure they had the skills to provide healthy, positive homes.

    “It was a good experience to be thrown into challenging situations and figure out how to navigate them,” she said.

    But Katie’s heart was working directly with children. After a year with LSS, she returned to TORCH in Northfield, this time in middle school. As her teachers had done for her in Alexandria, Katie’s job provides support and gives kids a chance to expand their horizons and realize their future potential.

    “It’s fun to see the positive progress of kids and build connections with them and their families,” she concluded. “It’s hard to imagine doing anything else. It’s my dream job.” 

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  • Spencer Brand, Class of 2012

    Posted by Jill Johnson on 1/2/2019 9:00:00 AM

    Spencer Brand went to school with kids who were passionate about music.S Brand

    “There were a ton of students that wanted to be musicians,” said the 2012 graduate of Jefferson High School. “They were so driven, music was their life.”

    It also became his. Brand earned a Bachelor of Music degree in trumpet performance from the University of Minnesota in 2016, and a minor in management from the Carlson School of Management.

    He developed an interest in composing music as well as playing in his sophomore year. At a friend’s urging, he entered a classical music composition competition and won. He proceeded to compose 60 pieces of music in just 18 months.

    Brand auditioned for the master’s program in performance and composition  at Arizona State in Tempe and was accepted into both. He recently submitted his master’s thesis in composition and is close to completing his second thesis.

    In addition, he is pursuing a doctorate in trumpet performance and is working as a teaching assistant.

    Brand’s goal is to complete his dissertation by 2020. After a recent trip to the Czech Republic, he learned of a composer who has more than 20 solo pieces for trumpet and keyboard that haven’t been recorded. For his dissertation, Brand plans to return to the Czech Republic, interview the composer and record those pieces.

    His ultimate goal is to be a trumpet professor at a university.

    “I realized that I enjoy teaching music theory and that I like the pedagogical aspect of music. I’m kind of a nerd,” he laughed.

    Brand credits his fellow students, music teachers, and his piano teacher in Alexandria for setting him on the right path to achieving his dream.

    “Music was their life, in school and in the community,” he concluded. “It gave me an upper hand because I had such a strong foundation. It was everything.”

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  • Julie Johnson, Class of 2004

    Posted by Jill Johnson on 12/19/2018 1:45:00 PM

    Julie Johnson moved to Alexandria from Arizona in middle school. She was not a fan of winter.johnsonjulie

    When she graduated from Jefferson High School in 2004, she jokes that she chose her college by strapping a snow shovel to the top of her car and driving until no one recognized it. She ended up at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

    Having always been interested in languages, she completed her undergraduate in international business with a minor in economics. She also earned a master’s in business administration at Rollins in 2010.

    Unable to find a job in International Business, she worked in retail for two years, earning a management position. But she wanted more of a challenge. On a whim, she applied for a job as an English teacher in China, which would fulfill her dream of traveling while giving her experience she needed.

    In 2012, Johnson moved to a remote village in China for a one-year stint as an English teacher at a middle school. She grew to love China and decided to stay. She moved to Shanghai, where she worked at a Disney English after-school program for another year. It was there that she discovered teaching was also a passion.

    She earned her teaching certification and is currently in her third year as a kindergarten teacher at a private international school in Shanghai.

    Johnson has become proficient in Mandarin, and reflects on the encouragement she received in middle school from a counselor.

    “I had a great guidance counselor. He encouraged me to take more language classes. Having someone there to discuss that with was so helpful for me,” she said.

    The culture, challenge, and ability to travel to amazing places in Asia has prompted Johnson to extend her current contract at least two more years.

    “I really like living here,” she concluded. “It was the challenge I was looking for.”

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  • Anthony Reed, Class of 2008

    Posted by Jill Johnson on 11/13/2018

    Anthony Reed, a 2008 graduate of Jefferson High School (JHS), was active in choir, orchestra, and theater. That is why he pursued a career in opera. Anthony Reed

    “What’s great about opera is it allows me to do all those at once,” he said.

    After graduation, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he first majored in violin performance.

    “We had an unusually gifted class of singers,” Anthony recalled. “I chose violin originally because I thought everyone could sing.”

    The lure of melding his three passions ultimately earned him a bachelor of music in vocal performance. He then earned a Master’s of Music in Opera the the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

    While there, he got an offer with the San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship Program. He was one of of five singers chosen out of 1,000. He participated for more than two years in the program.

    The past year he has been a freelance opera singer. His most recent performances were in Annapolis, Maryland with the Barber of Seville and with the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh. In May he will begin a stint with the Ryan Opera Center Lyric Opera in Chicago.

    Anthony is grateful for the opportunities he had at JHS, including AP classes, a life-changing AP English class, and the school’s excellent music program.

    “I credit a lot of my success to those years of Dean Dainsberg and Mr. Deitz believing that I could pursue something,” he said.

    His peers also played a major role in his life path.

    “My class was supportive, and my friends were all smart and driven and talented,” he concluded. “Being surrounded by peers with lofty ambitions helped me believe I was worthy of having lofty ambitions.”

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  • Christina (Wagner) Krist, Class of 2005

    Posted by Jill Johnson on 11/5/2018 9:00:00 AM

    Christina Krist Christina (Wagner) Krist comes from a long line of educators. Her mother, grandparents, and several aunts and uncles are teachers. As a child, Christina made a vow.

    “I’m never going to be a teacher,” she said.

    After graduating from Jefferson High School in Alexandria in 2005,  Christina went to Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, majoring in biology, with the goal of becoming a doctor.

    She also took a philosophies of education class, which inspired her to take more education courses. Despite her vow years before, Christina earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a licensure to teach 5-12 life sciences. She was officially a teacher.

    After a brief time in Los Angeles, Christina and her husband moved to Illinois, where she earned a PhD in learning sciences.

    She is currently an assistant professor in curriculum and instruction with a focus in science education at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

    “I split between research and teaching,” she explained. “I study how to make science education more meaningful for students and teachers.”

    Her work recently earned her the 2018 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Academy of Education.

    Christina feels that the education she received in Alexandria District 206 played a major role in her current success.

    “I was encouraged to explore a lot of different activities. It was interdisciplinary - the arts and sciences and how they connect and enrich students. I had the freedom to explore and it made me a better person.”

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