Alumni Spotlight: Kyle Cleary

We recently caught up with Groves Academy Alum Kyle Cleary.

My hope is that with stories like mine and other alumni profiles, families will see that Groves is much more than just another school in the Twin Cities. Groves is a game-changer.

How long were you at Groves Academy and what were a few key things you learned?

I was at Groves Academy from 7th grade through graduation. I learned so much at Groves about myself, how to interact with people, and how to learn. Recently I looked at my yearly standardized test scores which had measurable improvements year-over-year while at Groves. In my first year at Groves my scores increased 20% from the previous year in my public school!

What did you do after Groves?

After graduating from Groves, I spent the summer working on a golf course in northern Wisconsin then started college at Winona State University. At Winona, I worked through my four years then graduated with a double major in Business Administration and Human Resources and a minor in Business Management. After college graduation, I spent the summer hiking in Japan before starting my professional career at C.H. Robinson where I have been working for more than three years. 

How did your time at Groves prepare you for your next steps?

Groves prepared me well. With the small class sizes,  individualized attention from teachers, and flexibility I was able to develop the skills I needed for learning at my own pace. This was not something I experienced in the public school system where I felt every year I was getting further behind in my studies, overlooked, and pushed to the corner. The consequence of this was that I left public school with very little self-confidence. After just one year at Groves, I felt better about myself in social situations and in my ability to manage schoolwork.  

A key lesson I learned at Groves was that while it may take me longer to do an assignment, as long as I was willing to put in the time, I could get grades at the same level as my peers. This ended up being a critical lesson that helped me get through college.  

What are some of your favorite memories of Groves?

The class trips were the most memorable experiences for me. The end-of-year bike trip to a local park and the junior/senior camping trip come to mind. The camping trip was the first time I slept in a tent and it may have been the good weather or the good food, but this sparked a growing affection for camping. Now I choose to spend my weekends camping on the North Shore or in Wisconsin, all rooted in my first camping trip with Groves.

Also, my reading and writing class with Ms. Dinapoli was memorable and ended up having a large impact on who I am today. I did not know it at the time, but Ms. Dinapoli’s class showed me that reading could be enjoyable even though it was my most challenging subject coming into Groves. The lessons learned in her class created the foundation for me to go from avoiding reading at all costs to now reading being one of my favorite hobbies.

Why do you think Groves is an important asset to the Twin Cities community?

Groves may appear to be just another school building that many people would recognize as they drive down Highway 100, but do not realize the importance of the school to the students, families, and teachers inside. Groves is a place where parents and children who feel lost or at a dead end with school can find hope at a new school. My hope is that with stories like mine and other alumni profiles, families will see that Groves is much more than just another school in the Twin Cities. Groves is a game-changer.

What would you tell a student who was new to Groves about the school?

My advice would be to take advantage of this unique environment by making friends with students who have diverse interests and backgrounds. Groves has this ability to create a unique atmosphere by pulling students that may have felt like the “outsider” in another school to a place they can feel welcome and normalized. This creates a social setting with far fewer individual cliques, so it is easier to make friends between groups with different interests.

Anything else you would like to share with the Groves community?

The effect Groves has had on my personal life and career is hard to articulate in a few paragraphs, but I would like to share my appreciation. I am extremely thankful to the founding Groves families for starting a school like this. I am also thankful to the individual teachers, faculty, my parents, and other students who did so much for me during my years at Groves.

This interview originally appeared in the 2021 Summer edition of “Connections.”

Are you a Groves Alum? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know how you’re doing!
Please contact Ashley Gotreau at 952.915.4258 or [email protected].
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