Life is too short! Keep having a good time!

April 25, 2003
Editors: Beth Quest, Sue Hoch, Dean Shawbold

MnACTE/SNP Home Page:

President's Report

With this issue we are looking at the downhill side of the school year, how fast it has been going. March stated off with a terrific State-Wide Conference, I would like to thank the planning committee for all the hard work that they put into the conference. I would also like to thank everyone that attended this event; I hope that you received useful information that you could take back with you, along with some time to network with fellow coordinators. We had breakout sessions that provided a good variety of information/options for everyone to choose from, and the two keynote speakers definitely entertained us along with providing information to take with us. The awards winners were announced along with presentation of their plaques, they were well deserving of this recognition. Along with all the networking during the day at the Center, there was an opportunity to network and socialize Thursday evening. Look throughout the ECHO for more articles on the conference. We are starting to look towards the 2005 conference, and if you are interested in helping, please contact me and I'll forward your name. Thanks again to all those who helped plan, presented, or attended the 2003 Making Connections Conference and made it a success.

Submitted by:
Robert W. Lindgren
Work Experience Coordinator
Area High School
401 Huntsinger Avenue
Park Rapids, MN 56470
218-237-6479 &endash; office
218-237-6401 &endash; fax


Opening Session Keynote Tou Ger Xiong

Tou Ger was our keynote speaker for the bi-annual MnACTESNP conference in Brooklyn Center at the Earle Brown Heritage Center. Tou electrified the audience with his upbeat clothes, very spirited message, and his funny jokes.

I remember Tou when he was a student at Humboldt High School in the early 90's and a very good student at that. He was the valedictorian and his two sisters followed in his footsteps in also being valedictorians two years in a row. The two sisters also played competitive Badminton at Humboldt. I coached that team for several years and with his two sisters on the team we were able to capture the city championship, one year and second the next.

Tou, the summer after he graduated worked in a program in St. Paul that I had the opportunity to coordinate. He worked as a job coach, with a group of special needs students at the Government Center in St. Paul. He was a great leader as a young high school graduate as he is now. He later went on to work for the Mayor's Office and graduated from Carleton College.

Tou told us of his escape from Vietnam and showed us slides of where he lived in the mountains of Laos with his Hmong family. He told us how his parents wanted to come to America and bring their family to the land of the free and receive a good education. For the most part all of his family go out of Laos and became very successful citizens. As I sit here, watching the U.S. trying to liberate Iraq on T.V.; I have to think that Tou and his family must have suffered in the hills of Laos as the Iraqis are. Tou told us how they traveled at night to leave the country and cross rivers and fortunately his family and himself make it to safety and then finally to the U.S. and then on to St. Paul.

Tou has became a very successful motivated speaker who entertained us for about 45 minutes that kept us laughing and thinking the whole time about the Hmong customs and American pride. He was very well received and left us withy the message that education is ever so important in which we should instill that concept in our students everyday. Congratulations Tou! You've done well!

Submitted by:
Dean Shawbold
Transition Plus
White Bear Lake, MN



Student Successes


Imagine struggling to get up in the morning, knowing that you need to go to classes, then work at your job, and manage homework; all this with severe depression and anxiety.

This is what Amy has been able to rise above.

Previously she had worked for her school district helping with maintenance. She was at that job two years. She became interested in cosmetology and after attending the program at Northeast Metro-Century College (which she is still in), she was able to attain a job related to the cosmetology field. She is now working at a hair salon close to school and enjoying it! Her employer thinks she is a great addition to the staff. Amy's biggest accomplishment this school year is the fact that she was able to move into an independent living situation. This has greatly improved her confidence and is a goal that she has been wanting to succeed in for some time. Amy is well on her way to graduating from Transition Plus in White Bear Lake with a promising future.


When we first met Jeremy at Transition Plus, he was in jeopardy of graduating, and had been involved in drugs and crime. He was depressed and had given up accomplishing positive goals. He had recently served six months at Totem Town (a juvenile detention center), was on probation, as well as having financial obligations to restitute. Growing up in a dysfunctional family had taken a toll on his life. His trust in others and himself was limited, if not gone.

The staff at Transition Plus-White Bear Lake sat down with Jeremy and worked out a plan including goals to help with his future. Jeremy did succeed in graduating. He enrolled in computer classes at Century College and his professor stated that Jeremy was one of the most gifted students that they had seen come through their computer classes; he has a real talent for the field. Jeremy decided to hold off on continuing his post-secondary education and work on his financial goals. He has now worked hard to pay off restitution and has succeeded in getting off of probation. Jeremy currently has his driver's permit and as we are writing this, he is taking his driving test! He has a bank account and a part-time job. He enjoys his job and has been taking the initiative to work extra hours in the hope of achieving full time employment. He plans to finish his education relating to computers and his future dream is to own and operate a computer business….we think he can do it!

Submitted by:
Cindy Mattson
Transition Plus
White Bear Lake, MN

 Membership News

At the January 9, 2003 board meeting, we approved a change in the membership renewal process. All membership renewals will now have a renewal date of either March or October. This will:

  • Improve record keeping
  • Increase reporting capabilities
  • Improve money handling
  • Simplify financial requirements (such as deposits, etc.)
  • Decrease the # of volunteer hours committed to processing renewals
  • Lower mailing costs
  • Blend with state MNACTE renewal process.

I have been in contact with the MNACTE and likewise NAVESNP, so they are aware of our changes. During the transition to a bi-annual billing, member renewal dates will be forwarded into the next billing cycle. No member shall lose any months on their membership, but possibly gain a number of months during the transition.

A large number of members will be coming up for renewal in March 2003. Once you receive notice either through e-mail or regular mail, please renew promptly. This makes it much easier to maintain and update the information. It also alleviates having to send out numerous notices.

To those members who have renewed promptly, Thank you!

If anyone has questions or concerns regarding their membership, please feel free to contact me.

Submitted by:

Beverly Rath




Breakout Session on Bipolar at the MnACTE/SNP Conference

I sure hope I get the job! I've pushed enough carts.

Closing Session Keynote Speakers

Sister Michelle Meyers and Sister Kay O'Neil with Beth Quest

The highlight at our Friday luncheon was a presentation from the sisters, titled, LIFE IS TOO SHORT NOT TO HAVE A GOOD TIME: DEVELOPMING THE ART OF POSITIVE AFFIRMATION. The base of this presentation was on the importance of positive affirmation, taking care of oneself, and putting oneself up, NOT DOWN! They reaffirmed the importance of accepting, appreciating and applauding the people with whom we live and work. They stressed that how we think about others influences whether we appreciate or disparage them.

They had us cheering and laughing hysterically, while at the same time their powerful message rang loudly through our ears! This message being, "Life is definitely too short not to have a good time." Many of us could not recall the last time we had so much fun!

The conference evaluations were flooded with positive remarks about the sisters. Some of these were, "The Sisters made the conference come together in a most positive, spiritual way." Another person said, "The nuns were a great inspiration, they were the best!" Someone said, "They were absolutely funny, sensible and WONDERFUL!" Many said, "The sisters were the best part of the conference and PLEASE have them back next time!" I guess the conference planning committee better hurry up and see if the sisters are free in March of 2005!

Submitted by:
Beth Quest
Work Experience Coordinator
Irondale High School
New Brighton, MN



Outline From Sister's Breakout Session at MnACTE/SNP Conference

Going in Circles: Coping with Stress and Burnout

  1. Laugh as well as cry
    1. Employ and enjoy the wisdom of wit
    2. Look for the lighter side
  2. Examine myself talk
    1. Note when and how I am hard on myself
    2. Examine the effect of catastrophizing.
    3. My often-used negative message is…
    4. Stop negative self talk
    5. Change to positive self talk
    6. My positive message is…
    7. Discover the energy generated from monitoring my thoughts and eliminating negative message
  3. Count my Blessings
    1. Acknowledge the best thing that has happened to me today.
    2. Recognize the blessings that come from people and situations.
    3. Develop an attitude of gratitude.
  4. Homework: coping with stress
    1. Lighten up: don't take myself so seriously
    2. Monitor my self-talk. Change negative to realistic positives.
    3. Give myself affirmations at least three times a day
    4. Count my blessings. It really is good to be ALIVE!
Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Copyright 2003 Sisters Michelle Meyers &endash; Kay O'Neil, 203 Swan St., LeSueur, MN 56058

Board Elections

With spring fast approaching, and at times here, the Board started to seek nominations for next year's board members, beginning at the conference. There will be at least two openings, and in most cases four, for each of the sections represented on the board. In addition, the following officer positions are open: Treasurer/Membership (joint trial bases &endash; this year filled), ECHO Editor, and Webmaster. The section positions are one-year terms and the officer positions are two-year terms, and you need to be a member in good standing. The board members select the ad hoc members to serve on the board. If you are interest in being nominated, or have questions regarding serving on the board, contact Steve Czech at The present board and positions are listed on the home page of the website. The term begins with the Annual Membership Meeting in the fall. Please consider being nominated to serve on the board.

Submitted by:
Robert W. Lindgren
Park Rapids High School

Student Grant Awards

Once again the MnACTE/SNP Board will be awarding student grants to our special needs students, this year we will be awarding eight grants. This award is in the amount of $250 per winner. Nominations will be taken during April and first part of May, and the winner announced at our May board meeting. A member in good standing must submit or sponsor the nomination. The forms are available on our website, In addition, winners may be eligible for nomination to state or regional awards.

Submitted by:
Robert W. Lindgren
Park Rapids High School

Work Based Coordinator Networking

Just a short note about a couple of opportunities for coordinators of Work Based Programs to get together and network with other coordinators. In the metro area, there was a meeting on March 11th, at Eisenhower Community Center. This group has had some meeting in the past, but welcomes others to participate in the group. The board is planning to hold its May 8th meeting in Brainerd, with a coordinators gathering afterwards. The agenda and specifics for these meetings will come out later. If you know of coordinators that are not receiving information from MnACTE/SNP, please let them know about these opportunities, along with our website

Submitted by:
Robert W. Lindgren
Park Rapids High School

Get on Board

The students in Beth Quest's Transition Skills Class, at Irondale High School partnered with Metro Transit to learn the skills necessary to become independent bus riders. In January two staff from MetroTransit came to Irondale for a personlized bus training experience. There were approximately 30 students who were delighted to be a part of this unique experience because most of our students have never used public transportation before.

The tour started off with a thirty minute bus ride to Northtown Mall. Students learned all about bus transfers, reading bus schedules and most importantly how to successfully and safely get to our destination.

The two staff members then came to our classroom and answered questions. They shared with us all the career opportunities available at Metro Transit.

In March, Metro Transit will pick us up at Irondale High School and take us down to the Minneapolis Dispach Hub for a tour. This will give us a first hand look at many of the careers within Metro Transit along with an understanding on how their dispatch center operates.

Our final Metro Transit experience will be in May when we willtravel to the Mall of America. Each student will be responsible to log onto and find out all the information needed to bus from Irondale to the Mall of America and back to Irondale.

We feel very fortunate to have this partnership with Metro Transit because it is helping our students to become independent transporation users.

Submitted by:
Beth Quest
Irondale High School

Steve Czech
Date Last Modified: 4/25/03