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Payton Gresczyk

Abubakar: a reading superstar!

Abubakar: a reading superstar! 3986 3000 Payton Gresczyk

Maryan and her four children have been enrolled in Way to Grow programming for over seven years! They have worked closely with their warmhearted and dedicated Family Educator, Shany, since 2014. The youngest of the four children, five year old Abubkar, has been excelling in school and Shany has been very impressed with his desire to learn and engage in educational activities.

Abubakar was set to start kindergarten in the fall of 2021, but his pre-k assessments indicated he had surpassed kindergarten levels and was moved up to first grade! Throughout his visits with Shany, he has soared through his A-Z leveled readers and has is now reading at second grade level. On top of his exceptional reading skills, Abubakar stays very active, playing football and baseball. “He is a very lively little boy, always happy!” says Shany.

Abubakar is supported by his mom and three older sisters, but especially his sister Ameera. She takes time to read with her little brother and play with him. They are best buddies! Ameera is very nurturing and patient with Abubakar, listening to him practice his reading skills and helping him understand the new vocabulary.

We are so proud of Abubakar for his superstar accomplishments! We look forward to watching him continue excelling and succeeding in school and life.

Third Grade Graduation

Third Grade Graduation 6285 2744 Payton Gresczyk

Last Wednesday, we said “congratulations!” to our 43 third graders as they graduated from the Way to Grow Great by Eight program. Graduation was held on zoom and was filled with cheerful faces of our Way to Grow students and their amazing families.

The celebration featured fun and animated story time with Ellie McKay, an educator from the Children’s Theater. Ellie had everyone engaged by having us express different aspects of the story with poses and silly faces.

To our third grade graduates:

We are so proud of you! We want you to know that this is not ‘goodbye,’ just a ‘see you later!’ We can’t wait to see all of the big and exciting things you accomplish. Congratulations to you!

Additionally, thank you to all of the Way to Grow parents, guardians, and families— your hard work commitment to your child’s education is irreplaceable.

With love,

The Way to Grow team

Meet our New Staff!

Meet our New Staff! 3334 1459 Payton Gresczyk

We are excited to welcome six new team members at Way to Grow! Learn a bit more about Angela, Payton, Daniel, Dawn, Kate, and Fartun!

Angela Hamilton

Recruiter & Resource Advocate

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Angela, I live in Minneapolis. I grew up in Minnesota most of my life, my family moved here from Detroit, MI when I was a child. I love to travel and try new things. I enjoy doing yoga and going for walks.

What excites you about working at Way to Grow?

I am excited for the opportunity to share this great program with the community and interact with families! I am also excited to be a part of an organization that cares deeply for children’s outcomes.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy volunteering with children, going to restaurants, shopping, and taking vacations. I try to do something for self-care at least once a week.

Payton Gresczyk

Development & Communications Associate

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I studied nonprofit management at Hamline University and knew from there that I wanted to build my career in the nonprofit sector. I am so excited to be part of the Way to Grow team and work with donors, community members, and our internal team to better communities within the Twin Cities area.

What excites you about working at Way to Grow?

I am excited to be part of a dynamic team that is invested in bettering the lives of local community members and making education more equitable!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love spending time with my friends and family, trying new restaurants, biking around the lakes, playing games, and reading. I am looking forward to summer and enjoying as much sunshine as I can!

Daniel Hanson

Data Analyst

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I moved to Minnesota to be close to family and for a career in logistics. I spent years in that industry developing a lot of the skills that I use today at WTG and I feel like I learned very little about logistics itself. So now I’m here!

What excites you about working at Way to Grow?

I’m never too satisfied with initiatives that have aims to improve systems or create new ones; they have the wrong target, they didn’t earmark enough funding for public awareness, they neglected some group, et cetera. But Way to Grow is an organization that has an eye open for these gaps, and it is actually doing something about them. If I can make that work easier, I feel like I’m contributing to the communities that we live in. Also, Way to Grow has been evaluated as highly cost effective in our category of work, which reassures me that I’m in the right place.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I would love to, in this answer, say that I love movies, but actually I really enjoy talking about movies much more. A huge amount of my free time is spent listening to criticism and commentary, and I think that it is underappreciated as an art of its own. (But, of course, filmmakers and actors are great, so hello to Jason Isaacs).

Dawn Brocken

Human Resource Manager

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Mom to two awesome humans, a fluffy 70 lb. midnight retriever and an old man bichon-terrier mix. Penelope soon-to-be 12 and Genevieve ‘Evie’ ten and a half (that’s very important!), Rocco 9 months and Maddux 17 years old, both dogs have baseball references for names – love baseball. I am a native Minnesotan who has lived and studied art/photography in Savannah, GA and Scotland, UK. Younger sister to Kirstin, daughter of two high school sweethearts who’ve been married for 55 years this year. Avid coffee drinker – fountain of useless trivia information – degree in HR from Bethel University

What excites you about working at Way to Grow?

Working where the mission, vision and values match our actions and I get to be a part of it!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Softball transportation, bleacher coach and cheerleader for Evie, developing YouTube show ideas with Penelope. Refinishing furniture – spending time with family and friends especially now that the sun is setting on the pandemic – crafting and cooking with my kiddos and even some friendly baking competitions – road trips, camping and campfires.

Kate Kinkade

Communications & Development Coordinator

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I graduated with a degree in Communications in 2018, and I’ve been busy ever since! I love social impact work, community building, and creating art in digital spaces.

What excites you about working at Way to Grow?

Educational equity is important to me, and I feel honored to be a part of Way to Grow’s work in my own home community. Everyone at the office has welcomed me with open arms (and plates of Ethiopian injera, Somali coffee, and raspberry donuts).

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love the Gunflint Trail, sleeping in late, and keeping up with crime dramas on HBO Max. I live in Minneapolis with my dog Apple – these days, she keeps me busy.

Fartun Ahmed

Family Educator

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Fartun and I love working with families!

What excites you about working at Way to Grow?

What excites me most about working at Way to Grow is serving families most in need and getting them the support they need!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy being outside in nature and spending time with loved ones.

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