Tim Carlson '91
On August 2, 2017, Tim was walking through the skyway in downtown Minneapolis when he got a text from his son Drew, a student at Minnehaha who was playing soccer that morning on Guido Kauls Field at the Upper School. The text said, “the school just blew up.” Tim couldn’t believe what he was reading. “At the time, it was incomprehensible.”
Tim and his wife Erin, both alums from ‘91, have four kids at Minnehaha: Drew, Gabe, Greta and Elsa. Drew was just starting his sophomore year. Being on campus when the explosion happened had a big impact on him. There was not much time to process it all--everything moved so fast! A site for the temporary Upper School was found in Mendota Heights, and the school was put together in just 35 days. Seeing the way staff and Mortenson, the construction company, came in and made Mendota happen was “a spark of joy in the midst of tragedy.” Drew’s was the only class (‘20) who went to the original Upper School, then to the interim campus in Mendota, and have now returned to the rebuilt Upper School.
Trusting In Community
From a parent’s perspective, Tim felt loss in different ways. The kids immediately felt uncertain about the future, and so did they. School was supposed to start in a few weeks. Tim decided to “keep his head down and keep moving,” which is what he would always do when he faced major challenges in business or his personal life. He said to his kids, “We are going to figure this out, we are going to do this, it’s going to be alright, God has a plan for our school.” He reminded his kids that what happened did not change the fact that they still had their classmates and teachers--the community of MA had not changed, and it did not matter where the building was--the community is still the same. “Those are the people that you will want to lean into and the people that you will be around-- you will be alright.”
An Opportunity To Lead
At that time, Tim had recently been elected to the Board of Trustees, so he was involved in a lot of meetings and had a first-hand glimpse of what was going on, which helped him a lot. “This was unique for a parent. Other parents had a period of unknown--they did not see the bigger picture immediately, and were fearful about the future.” Tim had a glimpse into the “awesome” leadership team that was working on everything and coming up with solutions. It made him appreciate the great administrators and staff at Minnehaha Academy, how they were able to pull through this together and keep teachers motivated. “I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for our faculty and staff. Seeing them in action in a very adverse situation was really impressive.”
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
Tim is excited for his kids to experience the new Upper Campus. “The facilities are amazing.” He loves having a fresh start, having a school designed and built for a modern learning environment and incorporating the beauty of the outdoors, especially the beautiful trees and the location along the river. Tim is hopeful that the new Upper Campus will attract more families so others can experience it. Although the building is new--and beautiful-- it is not what defines the community and learning environment. “It is the people--the nurturing nature of the staff, how people treat each other, the culture that has been developed--that has not changed.” He is hopeful that more people will look at the school and realize what a great place it is, and what a great opportunity it is for their kids. “It will be a great tool that God can use to grow our community and grow our footprint in the world.”
Tim is the co-founder and COO of AgMotion, Inc., which supplies different grains and food ingredients to different sectors--livestock or human consumption--sourcing, buying and shipping products both domestically and throughout the world. One of his greatest joys is seeing product coming out of places like India and Africa, working with local farmers who can get better returns for their crops than they could previously, and seeing the positive impact on the local communities.
To The Alumni
What would Tim say to other alumni? “Take the opportunity to reconnect in some way. Check it out. The school and the culture has changed and evolved in many positive ways. The diversity is so much better, and the different backgrounds of kids who go there has brought richness to the culture. The teachers push the kids to think and explore. The opportunities that students have--like Cultural Field Experience--enrich the learning experience. MA is consistent with the values, support, and learning opportunities from when we were there, but there are a lot more now. Don’t make assumptions--come and check it out!”