Interview with alum Charlie Pihl
How long were you at Groves and what were a few key things that you learned at Groves?
I attended Groves from first grade through fifth grade (1997-2003). Back then, I don’t think ADHD/LD’s were often diagnosed at an early age so I was the only first grader. I was put in a class of five kids ranging from 2nd to 4th grade. I had the same teacher for 3 years! My academics focused on math, reading, and writing. It was nice to be an environment where I got a lot of one-on-one help and where I was with other kids that struggled. Groves gave me a solid foundation in math and reading that was critical for when I transitioned back into a mainstream school. Also, Groves taught me how to advocate for myself. Being able to advocate for myself was a skill I needed to use all the way through college.
What did you do after Groves?
After Groves, I transitioned to Orono schools. I had an IEP at Orono and the teachers were really helpful. I graduated from Orono in 2010 and attended the University of St. Thomas. At UST, I utilized the LD services and advocated for myself when I needed extra assistance. I graduated from UST in 2014 with a degree in Marketing. Currently, I work for Protolabs in sales.
How did your time spent at Groves prepare you for your next steps in life?
Groves taught me how to break projects down into manageable steps. I was taught time management. I learned how to work hard. I learned to ask questions. I learned how to advocate for myself. I learned that everyone has their own struggles.
What are some of your favorite memories of Groves?
I don’t have a specific memory that stands out except that I remember that the entire staff at Groves knew my name and were so friendly. It was a nurturing environment for me and my peers.
Do you still keep in touch with anyone from Groves?
I left in fifth grade (which was 15 years ago), but I am Facebook friends with three of my old Groves peers!
Why do you think Groves is an important asset to the Twin Cities community?
I was very lucky that I grew up in a community that has a school like Groves. Groves provides comprehensive testing for kids that have ADHD or LD or both. Once diagnosed, Groves can provide a variety of resources to help the kids get the support they need to be successful. Groves’ intention is not for kids to become dependent on their services, but for kids to thrive and become empowered. Without Groves, many kids would fall through the cracks.
Your employer recently made a gift to Groves. Why did you choose Groves Academy as the charity to nominate for your workplace gift?
I wanted to give back to Groves because it got me on the right trajectory to be successful in school.
What do you do at Protolabs?
I am an Account Manager at Proto Labs. Proto Labs is the world’s fastest manufacturer of custom prototype and low volume parts (3D printing, cnc machining, and injection molding.) I have been there for almost two years and I love it! I work with a great sales team and get to work on some super interesting projects.
What would you tell a student who was new to Groves about the school?
As a student, I struggled and it was very frustrating. Groves provided the attention and necessary resources I needed in order to be successful. At Groves you realize you are not alone and that everyone there believes in you. If I had not attended Groves, I do not think I would be where I am today.