H.M. Bouwman, Minnesota Children’s Book Author

H.M. Bouwman is the author of upper middle grade fantasy novels, including A Crack in the Sea (finalist for a MN Book Award), and A Tear in the Ocean, which published earlier this year–both from Putnam/Penguin Random House. Her MG novels have been taught primarily in 5th-7th grade classrooms, and a recent Voices from the Middle NCTE article (Dec 2018) offers teaching suggestions for Crack in the Sea. Heather also writes the Owen and Eleanor early chapter book series (Beaming Books); the third book came out this spring. These chapter books are aimed at ages 6-9 and show kids negotiating friendship and family and issues of faith in a humorous way. Heather is also a professor of creative writing at the University of St. Thomas and, in her non-writing life, a fifth-degree black belt in a traditional Korean martial art. She lives in St. Paul with her family, and if you friend her on Facebook you’ll read many many posts about her badly-behaved, overly-smart cat. (You won’t be subjected to these on Twitter, where she tries to behave like a professional.)  Learn more about her at her website.

Dr. Jane Harstad, Director of the Office of Indian Education for the Minnesota Department of Education

Jane Harstad began her educational endeavors at the University of Minnesota where she pursued her Elementary Education licensure with an emphasis in American Indian Studies. She worked within many American Indian groups, and served on the Board of Directors for the National Indian Education Association. Post-graduation she taught in St. Paul Public Schools. In 2005, she was accepted into the American Indian Leadership Program at Pennsylvania State University, earning her Master’s degree in educational leadership, as well as obtaining a Doctorate with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction.

While at Penn State, Ms. Harstad worked for the Professional Development Schools as a Professional Development Associate, collaborating with, supervising, and teaching pre-service teachers during their year-long internship. Ms. Harstad was also a Holmes Scholar, and provided culturally responsive professional development both locally and nationally. Her dissertation research related to teacher efficacy in teaching American Indian curriculum.

Upon her return to Minnesota, Dr. Harstad worked with American Indian literature and also as the Principal of a Tribal school. She is currently serving as the state Director of Indian Education at the Minnesota Department of Education.