Alumni Spotlight: Kellen Burke

We recently caught up with Groves Academy Alum Kellen Burke.

Because of my time at Groves, I know how I best absorb and digest information and this allows me to approach education from a different angle and still find equal or better success.

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

I attended Groves Academy from 1st through 6th grade (2003–2008). Groves Academy gave me the frame of mind that there was more than one way to learn. At Groves there was an environment to experiment and succeed despite my learning disabilities. Groves Academy is different from other learning institutions in that Groves doesn’t just teach you—they teach you how to learn. While dyslexia and ADD still affect my personal and professional life, the skills Groves equipped me with have helped me find success despite my challenges.

What did you do after Groves?

After leaving Groves, I graduated from Orono High School, then went on to graduate with honors from University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in political science and business. I have since gone on to work in the software industry for a number of international technology companies.

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

Groves gave me the personalized tools necessary to learn and to continue to do so. For people with dyslexia, ADD, or any number of learning differences, standard schooling does not always cut it. Groves gave me a framework and the individual attention to look at education differently. Because of my time at Groves, I know how I best absorb and digest information and this allows me to approach education from a different angle and still find equal or better success.

What are some of your favorite memories of Groves?

Favorite memories from my time at Groves are playing “Medic” (a Groves variation of dodgeball) in the gym and skateboarding during recess. Groves constantly encouraged healthy forms of expression and despite my lack of skill on a skateboard—I was sure to get a round of applause from the teachers on recess duty.

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

Groves offers individualized attention and treatment that other learning institutions just can’t match. Groves knows that not everyone learns the same way and helps those with learning differences realize their full potential. Groves doesn’t boil intelligence down to a test score or a letter grade but instead expands the horizons of what learning truly looks like for each individual. If everyone had access to the resources you can find at Groves, I truly believe that traditional notions of education would be a thing of the past.

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

I’d tell them, “Don’t be discouraged that just because you don’t understand something right now doesn’t mean you never will. Learning takes time, it takes work, and it doesn’t always come naturally. Don’t let a few tough subjects kill your curiosity and desire to learn. Groves is a place where everyone learns differently. Embrace this difference as it will lead you down some really interesting paths.”

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

One thing I’d love to stress with the Groves community is how important it is to draw attention to learning disabilities not just in Minnesota, but nationally. So many other bright children around this country are not fortunate enough to have a place like Groves to realize their full potential. Raising awareness outside of this community can lead to systematic changes in the way we think about educating students. Traditional education standards in this country are often a one size fits all policy. I think it’s incredibly important to start changing this.

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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