This fall, Minnetonka’s Navigator Program welcomed two new teachers to the Grade 4 and 5 teaching team at Excelsior Elementary: Ms. Kristen Lea and Mr. Blake Wragge.
“Kristen and Blake are a phenomenal Navigator teaching team,” said Diane Rundquist, Director of Advanced Learning Programs for the district. “They are utterly child-centered, experienced, and energized to serve our remarkable students. Their commitment to the whole-child growth of highly gifted children made them stand out as educators–I can’t wait for students and parents to meet them!”
Ms. Lea taught in the Shakopee school district for 14 years before coming to Minnetonka Schools in 2021-22. At Shakopee, she held a variety of roles, from teaching a looped class (where students stay with the same teacher for two years) to mentoring other teachers as an Instructional Coach to teaching fifth grade with clusters of identified Gifted learners. Last year, she taught fourth grade at Excelsior Elementary. Ms. Lea earned her undergraduate degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and holds two master’s degrees, one from St. Mary’s University in education and another from Hamline University in literacy education, where she also earned a K-12 reading license.
“We care so much about our students and families already. We’re looking forward to diving in with them as we pursue a deeply rigorous and exciting year,” said Ms. Lea. “It’s really about helping them be the best that they can be, in every way – by nurturing students’ big-picture thinking and academic skills, as well as their social-emotional learning and growth.”
Ms. Lea loves to write and loves encouraging her students in their writing. She is married and has a cat named Luna.
Mr. Wragge comes to Minnetonka from Waconia Public Schools, where he worked as a fourth grade teacher for seven years. He earned his Gifted and Talented teaching certification three years ago, and he has been working with small groups of gifted and talented students within his classroom since then. Mr. Wragge earned his Bachelor’s degree from Luther College in Decorah, IA and holds a Master’s degree from the University of North Dakota in reading education.
“I’m excited to be part of such a student-focused program and school district with so many resources for teachers to challenge each learner,” shared Mr. Wragge. “The Navigator Program is a creative and inventive place. I like to think outside the box, and it excites me to continue to work with students who have that same passion and are looking to be challenged and grow exponentially.”
“Gifted students have a thirst for knowledge and a passion for rigor,” said Mr. Wragge. “We’re here as teachers to help them soar - by providing a really engaging and positive school experience. I’m excited to help students be the best that they can be as they learn and grow.”
He loves to read fantasy and science fiction, and he also loves to travel. He and his wife have a goal of visiting all of the National Parks and Minnesota State Parks someday; they’ve visited 25 so far.
Welcome, Mr. Wragge and Ms. Lea!