June 2018 Life Changer

June 2018 Life Changer: Allegra Smisek

Hopkins social studies teacher Allegra Smisek encourages her students in the classroom and beyond by challenging them to become better people and future leaders. She strives to make every person feel valued and empowered.

In her 10 years in the District, Smisek has accomplished a lot. She has been integral in the implementation of a number of programs. There was the Royal Roundup Homebase, Hopstock Professional Development Conference, American-Indian Education Program, and most recently the Royal Reps — just to name a few.

In addition to teaching, Smisek is the social studies curriculum coordinator and the American-Indian Education Program coordinator. She has helped secure five grants from the Hopkins Education Foundation and re-envisioned the social studies curriculum.

On her Twitter bio, Smisek proudly describes herself as someone who helps “kids discover their voice and power.” And she, undoubtedly, does just that.

“Ms. Smisek has challenged me and my classmates many times this year to do more work, work outside of our comfort zone, and speak up for what we believe in,” said Aliya Rosenthal, one of Smisek’s students.

Smisek may challenge her students, but she also practices what she preaches. She stepped out of her own comfort zone in an effort to amplify education issues in the community when a local government representative stepped down. She threw her name in the ring to run for public office. Even though she did not receive the endorsement, she said it was one of the most enriching experiences of her life that will help her support former students when they run for office someday.

“I’m so grateful to my students for reminding me how important it is to take risks, seize opportunities, and speak up for what you believe in,” Smisek said.

Background: After graduating from St. Olaf College, Smisek accepted a position as an English professor at Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand. She returned to Minnesota where she received her teaching license and began teaching social studies at North Junior High and Hopkins High School.

What do you love most about working at Hopkins Public Schools? In the words of Superintendent Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed, “Hopkins is the world.” To me, Hopkins is a social studies teacher’s dream! No matter what we are studying in class, our diversity enriches the conversations.

Proudest moment? Generally speaking, my favorite event of the year is the AVID banquet. It’s so incredible to celebrate former students and hear where they will be attending college the following fall.

Stats:  B.A. in history, religion, and American studies, St. Olaf College; Master’s of Education in social studies education, University of Minnesota; currently pursuing a K-12 administrative licensure, University of Minnesota. Allegra Smisek teaches eighth grade global studies and is the coordinator for the social studies curriculum and American-Indian Education Program.