Minnesota Learner-Centered Network

ABOUT US | Mission

The mission of Minnesota Learner Centered Network is to connect and empower educators and students to disrupt systemic racism and to transform learning environments to be student-centered; equitable, relevant, engaging and designed with and for all students.

The Minnesota Learner Centered Network envisions an anti-racist society and a just world through an equitable, anti-racist education.

ABOUT US | What does the MLCN do?

Connect Educators  |  Equip and Encourage  |  Elevate and Accelerate

MLCN is a grassroots network that is a catalyst to promote equity within education and to accelerate the learner-centered movement in Minnesota.  MLCN elevates the quality work of the members who are moving towards an anti-racist, student centered educational system.

The MLCN will bring fidelity, resilience and sustainability to learner-centered environments within schools, communities and districts across MN.

The MLCN logo

ABOUT US | Leadership

Gina Meinertz


Gina Meinertz is the Assistant Superintendent and Transformation Leader at Spring Grove Schools. After getting to experience the magic and successes of experiential, place-based, and project-based learning as an educator, Gina decided it was her life goal to bring more of these concepts to her students and school systems. 

Gina works with schools and organizations to create student-centered systems to bring more enjoyment, equity, and engagement for all. Here is Gina's statement of purpose with my work:

I coach and lead because I believe children hold the capacities to bring peace to our world. I want to empower teachers and leaders to create experiences and environments in which the children ask, answer, challenge themselves, learn from failures, and celebrate their stages of learning.


Jemar Lee


Jemar Lee, an Alumnus of Morningside University, double majored in Business Administration and Public Policy with minors in Sociology and Pre-law. Currently, he works as a Customer & Innovation Analyst for Xcel Energy. Having experienced the transformative power of Learner-Centered Education firsthand in high school, Jemar became a nationally respected advocate for it.

This led him to support the launch of MLCN in 2018, previously serve as a fellow with Education Reimagined, Ambassador for Future of School, and advocating to/with Morningside University administration to implement learner-centered practices in higher ed during his studies there. For several years, he has spoken and presented at conferences nationwide about learner-centered education, including SXSWedu, Grant Makers for Education, Aurora Institute (iNACOL), Education Reimagined and more.

His passion for a Learner Centered Education has only grown throughout his educational and professional journey. He serves on the Board of Directors of Exploration High School and as a National Advisory Council member for Education Reimagined working to further push LCE forward on the ground level and in the broader national conversations.

Outside of work, Jemar can often be found traveling, biking, exploring the Twin Cities, and spending time with friends and family.


Jim Wartman


Jim began working at Minnesota New Country School (MNCS) in 2002 as an advisor. He has led the school's financial, human resource and marketing teams in that time. He was also the lead member of the team that expanded the school to add an elementary component.

Jim has a degree in Social Studies Education from Minnesota State - Mankato and a Masters in Educational Leadership from MSU - M as well. He has presented extensively on Projected Based Learning and the model MNCS uses for democratic decision making.

His mission as a teacher is to help student's transcend real and perceived barriers by helping them self-actualize. To attain that we must get to know who our students are, find what is relevant to them and then set forth learning plans that help support them as learners to take on challenges that help them grow as individuals. Organizations like MLCN are the key to changing paradigms in education.


Julene Oxton


Julene Oxton is an educator serving students and adult learners for  30+ years and currently works in Eagan, MN as a Reading Recovery teacher. Julene’s heart is to  transform education. Her journey toward that goal has encompassed - Innovation Coordinator for Lakeville Public Schools in MN, a founder of Impact Academy,  School Transformation and Development Director for EdVisions, a Regional Ambassador of Teacher Powered Schools and co-founder of the Minnesota Learner Centered Network. Julene has a MS from University of MN and a Specialist Degree from St. Thomas Univ.

 In the past decade, Julene led a team of teachers that flipped an elementary school within the Lakeville District from a conventional model to a student-centered learning environment called Impact Academy. She led a talented coaching team of practitioners in serving ten MN schools in their transformational journey toward creating student-centered learning environments when working for EdVisions.. Her energy has also been focused on the development of the MN Learner Centered Network (MLCN); to build a place where educators and students can find encouragement, resources and ideas from other like-minded, courageous educators and organizations that dream of an anti-racist, equitable, relevant, engaging learning environment designed with and for all students.


Michael Nelson


Michael Nelson has had a lifelong passion for education and the arts. She worked for over 20 years as a museum educator, both full time in museums and as a consultant. A large percentage of her museum work was dedicated to working with teachers and volunteers to create learner-centered opportunities in museums and classrooms. Michael also served on her local public school board from 2019-2022, serving as board chair in 2022. She still serves on the district’s Excellence and Equity Committee as well as the Community Equity Commission for the City of Savage.

She has degrees in Communications and Humanities from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a graduate degree in art history from the University of Notre Dame, where she began her work as a museum educator.

Her professional and volunteer work continues to center on education, the arts, and equity.


Renee Swanson


​​Renee received her undergraduate degree in Genetics and Cellular Biology from the U of MN - Twin Cities.  After working in the biotechnology field, she went back to school to receive her Master's of Arts in Teaching, with a license in 9-12 Life Science, from Hamline University.  She has been a science teacher and Assistant Director of Education at HSRA for 12 years.

Renee currently is a lead teacher and instructional coach focusing on developing HSRA's hands-on inquiry based learning, blended learning re-engagement strategies in the classroom, art integration through Hip Hop Pedagogy into science and other core content fields, and student-centered competency assessment and portfolio process. Through these endeavors Renee has been able to offer students learning opportunities that extend beyond the classroom into community collaborations, travel opportunities, extensive field trips and site visits and offering a look into the careers related to the content students are learning about. The students at HSRA have received multiple awards and recognition for the work they have done creating environmentally focused hip hop music. In 2018, Renee was a top 10 finalist for MN Teacher of the Year.

To keep her work/life balanced, Renee spends most of her extended time off from school keeping life in perspective by traveling with her husband and two kids, mainly by bicycle, around the world. She also enjoys winter camping, trail running and just about anything that gets her outdoors.


Tim Quealy


Tim Quealy began working at Avalon School in 2008.  Since 2014, Tim has served as Program Coordinator. In 2018, Tim participated in Education Reimagined's Pioneer Lab (San Francisco) and was also recognized by the WEM Foundation as an Outstanding Educator in Ethics Education during both the 17-18 and 18-19 school years.

Though licensed in Language Arts, Tim loves to support students with math, computer science, and web design projects, leading a group of students through a full website design and build of Avalon's own homepage in 2023.  

Tim has a degree in English from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s in Teaching from Hamline University.  In addition to his work at Avalon, Tim also helps lead the Minnesota Learner-Centered Network, an organization dedicated to supporting, connecting, and promoting learner-centered environments across the state.

Tim can be reached at Tim@avalonschool.org


ABOUT US | Membership

Membership to the MLCN is completely free! Sign up today to get our monthly newsletter and stay in-the-know about opportunities to support and engage with Learner-Centered Environments around Minnesota and beyond.

What are members commited to?

  • Members reflect, acknowledge, and examine practices, policies, and curriculum to disrupt the current system and to build an equitable student centered education system.
  • Members honor the humanity of student-centered learning; recognizing and valuing the uniqueness of each person and school they represent; inclusive of public district, public charter and private sectors.
  • Members contribute to the network and utilize the network to actively dismantle the hierarchical power of the current system and distribute the power to the student and teacher leaders
  • Members lift stories of students and teachers to create the narrative of the student-centered learning, equity movement in MN.

ABOUT US | Board

The MLCN is a 501c(3) registered non-profit.

Board Leadership

Trish Harvey
Hamline University
Julene Oxton
Board Chair
Chelsea Sherburne
Ann Mitchel

Board Meetings and Minutes

The MLCN Board of Directors meets quarterly throughout the year.

See minutes of past meetings, or plan to join us in the future!

-October 16th, 2023

ABOUT US | Contact

Connect with us!

The easiest way to get in touch is email: MNLCNetwork@gmail.com