September 7, 2018

Meet Our 2018-19 EdFellows

By Andrea Roethke

This year, we are thrilled to welcome two new EdFellows to the EdAllies family: Linnea Mengar and CJ Ellsworth, both of whom will take on education policy projects informed by their experiences as full-time classroom teachers. Linnea will work to deepen local conversations around school transparency, with a focus on the barriers families face seeking out better information about school performance. CJ will work to make self-directed and independent learning strategies more accessible to educators in a variety of school settings.

What is EdFellows?

We believe that transformational change for Minnesota students will require more voices—and the ideas, perspectives, and solutions they bring—at the table. From coalitions, to advisory boards, to events, to surveys and countless coffee meetings, we partner directly with parents, students, and educators who experience our education system day-to-day. Most are passionate about improving student opportunities and outcomes, and are eager to play a deeper role in policy conversations, bringing both nuance and new ideas to the forefront.

We founded EdFellows to give these emerging leaders a platform to do just that. Each fellow develops a project to help move the needle on a specific issue over the course of the year, and also gets the chance to shadow our team and inform our decision-making. The program helps local advocates build their knowledge and skills, while also directly informing our work.

We hope you’ll read more about Linnea and CJ, and help us welcome them to EdAllies! 

Linnea Mengar

Through the EdFellows program, Linnea aims to work alongside families to identify barriers relating to school transparency in Minnesota. She is currently in her fifth year teaching elementary school in the Twin Cities, working most closely with lower elementary learners. She developed an interest in education during her undergraduate years at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which eventually led her to the University of Minnesota to earn a master’s in Elementary Education. Through these experiences, Linnea identified an urgent need to address the systemic forces shaping our current educational system, ultimately sparking her interest in policy. Outside the classroom, you can find Linnea exploring Twin Cities restaurants and coffee shops or enjoying a lake walk.

CJ Ellsworth

Through EdFellows, CJ researches self-directed and independent learning strategies, and then shares them with educators around the state so that they better serve their students. Originally from New Jersey, CJ began his education career as a Teach For America corps member in Philadelphia. There, CJ taught AP Calculus at a charter school before uprooting his life and career to help found Venture Academy High School in Minneapolis. As a teacher, team-leader, and board member at Venture, CJ continues to research and implement self-directed learning strategies in the classroom. He is constantly working to find the most useful and effective strategies for teachers of all experience levels to implement in their classrooms, making them more student-centered and effective. When not at Venture or coaching various sports, CJ can be found on the golf course or relaxing at home with his wife, Sara, a Minnesota native. He received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University with a double major in Economics and Political Science.